The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has sought the State government’s permission to fill all the seats in its buses by relaxing social distancing norms.

At present, in non-AC buses, out of the 54 seats, passengers are allowed to occupy only 30, and in AC buses, 20 of the 40-odd seats are allowed to be filled. The KSRTC recently announced that it has modified seating arrangements in some of its buses to ensure social distancing.

“Many States have relaxed norms on carrying passengers in buses. We too have requested on similar lines. The government is likely to take a decision after taking the opinion of experts and officials concerned,” said an official.

In Karnataka, State-run road transport corporations resumed services on May 19. Owing to poor occupancy, a majority of the fle et remained off the road. Officials said relaxing norms may help even private operators to run buses in large numbers. “Now, only a few private buses are running as it is not financially viable to run a bus with half occupancy. If rules are relaxed, more private players may resume services,” said an official.

The number of people travelling in KSRTC buses is increasing gradually. At present, 40% of the fleet is plying. “On Monday, our revenue touched ₹4 crore — the highest so far for a day after resuming services. Prior to the lockdown, our daily revenue used to be between ₹8 crore and ₹9 crore. We are hoping that revenue and ridership will gradually increase,” an official said.

For close to five months, the fleet of luxury buses has remained off the road. Out of the 500 AC buses, only 40 are running.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), on the other hand, has got the permission to fill all the seats as its buses are operated within the city limits. “In the coming days, we will request the government to allow standing passengers as well,” said an official.

The BMTC is operating 3,500 buses a day and the ridership has touched 11 lakh a day. The fare box revenue collection is around ₹1.2 crore a day.

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