Kochi : Private buses in Kochi were charged heavy penalties for carrying excess passengers despite set rules for safe space and having been allowed to levy 50 percent more in ticket fares.
Hiked tickets rates were approved so that fewer passengers were ferried onboard and safe personal spaces maintained. However, several private operators view the hike as quick-buck gambit, picking up excess passengers through the routes.
Only one passenger is allowed per seat. Several buses however choose to flout this rule and some even go to the extent of allowing standees inside - a gross violation of the preventive curb.
On routes without checks, the crew on some buses call out to more waiting travelers even while having excess passengers inside. With increasing reports on quarantine violators, the private bus defiance would make travels extremely risky for the public.
Two city buses have been taken into police custody a police team from Ernakulam South station. The Fort Koch-bound bus was nabbed at Thevara while bus plying Ernakumam-Poothotta was taken into custody at Vallanjambalam. A jam-packed bus running Palluruti-High Court route bus was pulled up and fined Rs. 10,000. Other buses were charged Rs 5,000 each. The fines align with High Court order saying all buses nabbed during lockdown shall be let-off with fines.
Meanwhile, the Private Bus Operators Association President, MB Satyan said, most buses were running on loss though services were restored on Tuesday. On the first day, the earnings did not suffice to even pay for diesel charges , he said. The situation would discourage more buses from continuing operations. All bus owners have been instructed to abide by social distancing rules. There’s nothing wrong in penalising violators, he added .