The decision of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to operate 160 buses during the lockdown is helping thousands of people carry out essential services in the city. Every day, close to 9,000 people working in the health sector and in agencies such as BESCOM, BBMP, BWSSB as well as employees of banks, petrol bunks and police personnel use the services to reach their workplace. People visiting hospitals and blood donors are also allowed to use the service.
BMTC driver Shivaprasad who operates on Outer Ring Road (ORR) said, “I have been working in the Corporation for more than 15 years and never experienced this kind of situation. I am driving the bus on a long route to and from Banashankari. After reaching Hebbal, we go to Marathahalli, Hebbal and then back to Banashankari. There are many hospitals on this route.”
Bus drivers say that roads are empty. On a normal day, it would take Mr. Shivaprasad four hours to complete a trip on ORR. “Now, we cover the distance in two hours even though we drive slowly,” he added.
BMTC conductor Somashekar said that only people with valid ID cards are allowed to travel in the bus. BMTC provides hand sanitisers, masks and gloves for the bus crew.
“We also maintain social distancing. Only one passenger is allowed to sit in a row. We are happy to serve at this crucial time. We drop off passengers at the bus stop located closest to their workplace,” said Somashekar.
As a precautionary measure, only 20 people are allowed to travel in the bus. However, the Corporation operates only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the timings are not conducive to those working late hours or in night shifts.
Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research Director C.N. Manjunath said, “Transportation during lockdown is an issue for people, especially those who don’t have their own cars or two-wheelers. BMTC’s services have helped them. However, as the frequency is less, we are contemplating hiring a few mini buses that can be operated between major bus stands for our staff.”