Social distancing gets thrown under the bus

Social distancing goes for a toss due to limited number of buses running on certain routes in Tiruchi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

With limited number of town buses being operated in the city, there appears to be overcrowding on some routes sending social distancing for a toss.

Though buses are supposed to operate only with 60% occupancy, heavy rush could be witnessed during peak hours with passengers travelling even on foot board on certain routes. While buses operating within the city seem to have lesser crowd, those plying to the city outskirts and villages in the peripheries from where a large number of people commute for work and other purposes are often jam-packed.

Buses operating to and beyond Somarasampettai, Vayalur, Pettavaithalai, Nachalur, Perugamani, Lalgudi, Thuvakudi, Inam Kulathur and some other places are attracting heavy crowd. The bus crew can hardly enforce personal distancing given the heavy rush as only 50% of the buses are being operated now. Commuters also complain of long waits at the bus stops due to limited frequency.

“About 15 buses were operating from Chathiram Bus Stand to Pettavaithalai, Nachalur and other villages along the Karur highway. But now only seven are running and hence the buses are running full, leaving little scope for personal distancing. Following the relaxations in the curfew norms, more people are commuting to the city,” observed P. Ayyarappan, a road safety activist of Allur on the outskirts of the city. He emphasized that the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation should increase the frequency so as to check overcrowding.

Conceding that more and more people have started their regular commute to the city from the neighbouring villages in the city, Kumar of Kavalkaranpatti, who works as a security guard in the city, said he had no option but to travel in the crowded town buses to go to work every day. “With my income of just ₹6,500 a month, I necessarily have to depend on the public transport. There are so many others like me who live in the villages around the city,” he said.

TNSTC officials say that passenger traffic was fluctuating. “There was good crowd on Samayapuram and Manachanallur routes on Tuesday and so we diverted more buses on the routes on Wednesday, but the passenger traffic was not much yesterday. However, from Friday officers will be deployed at important points such as Vayalur, Samayapuram Tollgate, Jeeyapuram etc to monitor the situation and organise buses as per demand. We are trying to deploy mofussil buses on town bus routes during their idling time here,” a senior TNSTC officer told The Hindu.

Expressing concern over crowds in buses and other places, a senior physician of the city observed that the COVID-19 situation seemed to be under control in Tiruchi so far but could take a turn for the worse with the heavy movement of people to and from the city. “Individuals need to be self-disciplined to protect themselves and others. Everyone must wear masks and maintain personal distancing and hand hygiene,” he observed.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 12:39:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/social-distancing-gets-thrown-under-the-bus/article31749830.ece

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