Teething Problems Apart, new City Bus Rules give hope for better Commuting Experience
The Regional Transport Authority has issued new rules as per the directives of a division bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia.
Bapan Kalita, DTO (RTA) has been conducting drives against the errant city buses since last week. Around 85 buses have been seized and many other buses have gone off the roads to avoid paying the fines that are being imposed. Moreover, 30% of the buses had been shifted to other routes from the ones that are believed to be over congested.
Consequently, many commuters were seen stranded at the designated bus stops and having a tough time due to lack of sufficient buses.
One of the office goers said, "Although the buses are coming on time, there is not enough space to even set foot on the bus."
Drishti Das, a commuter said, “As per the new rules, passengers have to board the bus from the back door, and get out from the front door. But how are we to move to the front if the bus is so crowded? Even when we are near to the back door we have to push forward which is very difficult.”
It has to be mentioned that as per the new rules, passengers have to board the bus from the back door and alight through the front door. Given that there is no fixed capacity of the buses, every vehicle is over filled and the conductors push the passengers farther inside so that they can close the doors. As such, it has become inconvenient for commuters to push to the front to get down.
Talking to G Plus, Kalita informed, “The bus capacity is actually limited to the availability of seats. However, the rule is not strictly imposed as of yet.”
Rosie Bayan, “A very recent problem many are facing is the claustrophobic situation arising because both the doors of the bus are shut and the windows are kept closed because of the dusty weather. I appreciate the different rules made for the safety of the passengers but this problem has become a major issue for many.”
Many female passengers have raised concern that some elements, taking the chance of the packed buses, indulge in anti-social activities like physical harassment, inappropriate touching etc making the situation further uncomfortable.
In this regard Kalita said, “ A helpline number for women – 181 - has already been issued and we have asked every commercial vehicle including city buses, Uber and Ola vehicles, Rapido, etc. to ensure that the same number is written prominently on the body of the bus.” However, the same has not been mentioned in the rules issued by the department.
The new permit also directs all city buses to have a stoppage time of not more than one minute at bus stoppages which was agreed in accordance with the government and the bus associations. Contrary to this, the banners displayed behind buses with the WhatsApp numbers for complaint mentions two minutes as stoppage time.
In Guwahati, 12 enforcement teams have been deployed to check the city buses to ease the problems faced by commuters and the Kamrup (M) administration has realized Rs 5.71 lakh in fines and registered 217 cases.