Usage of public transport takes a hit despite gradual exit from lockdown

Patronage for the Bengaluru-Mysuru-Bengaluru train service continues to be negligible.

Patronage for the Bengaluru-Mysuru-Bengaluru train service continues to be negligible.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

Despite the gradual exit from the lockdown and graded unlocking of the economy, people seem to be reluctant to patronise public transportation because of COVID-19.

Preference for personal vehicles is high, as evident in their numbers on the roads and the near empty public transport vehicles that continue to be operated by the government.

A case in point is the Bengaluru-Mysuru-Bengaluru train service that was introduced with effect from May 22. The Bengaluru-Mysuru section was one of the highest revenue-generating sectors for South Western Railway. In the pre-COVID-19 days, 34 pairs of trains used to operate between the two cities and the originating passenger traffic from Mysuru station alone was 25,000 to 30,000 passengers a day. The passengers from other stations along the route, including Mandya, Maddur, Channapatna, and Ramanagaram, would augment the footfalls.

As part of the graded relaxation of the lockdown norms and the gradual resumption of public transportation, the authorities introduced a daily service connecting Bengaluru and Mysuru. But the public response seems to be tepid.

On the first day after resumption of services, 59 passengers travelled from Mysuru to Bengaluru and 67 passengers in the return direction. On May 29, a week after the resumption of services, the scenario did not change significantly. There were 117 passengers on board the train from Mysuru to Bengaluru, which had a carrying capacity of 1,400 passengers. In the return direction on the same day, there were 126 passengers — 9% of the total carrying capacity of the train.

On June 8, when there was further relaxation in the lockdown norms, only 169 passengers used the service from Mysuru and 150 travelled from Bengaluru. The figures for June 10 were similar, with 133 passengers travelling from Mysuru and 136 taking the train from Bengaluru to Mysuru.

Rajashekar, a frequent traveller from the city to Davangere, said he used to patronise only buses and trains. “But ever since the curbs on inter-district travel were lifted, I have been using only my personal vehicle as I don’t want to take any risk,” he said.

In the case of the Bengaluru-Belagavi service, 231 passengers boarded the train from Bengaluru on June 10 while the train that arrived at Bengaluru from Belagavi on June 9 carried 380 passengers.

Bus services

The situation is no different for bus services operated by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Against the normal of nearly 400 trips between Bengaluru and Mysuru running with full occupancy in the pre-COVID-19 days, the authorities are operating only 150 trips now. A senior KSRTC official said they have been mandated to operate on 50% occupancy rate, against the full capacity of 60 passengers in a bus, and even this does not get filled on most trips.

In all, there are 2,400 departures from Mysuru city to different destinations in the State, including Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Madikeri, Chamarajanagar, and Mangaluru. “Traffic is yet to pick up as people are avoiding mass transport systems as of now. We are operating only 33% of the services at 50% capacity, and even this is not fully patronised,” the official said.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 7:17:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/usage-of-public-transport-takes-a-hit-despite-gradual-exit-from-lockdown/article31816470.ece

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