State government allows operation of buses with AC facilities

People with co-morbidities and those above 65 years of age will be barred from travel; mask-wearing will be mandatory

The Tamil Nadu government has permitted all State Transport Undertakings and private operators to operate buses with air-conditioning facilities.

The decision also applies to buses operated or engaged by industries to transport their employees, or for school and college students on a need-basis by complying with the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued in this regard.

โ€œThe temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate. The air circulation system should allow fresh/treated air with a fresh air level of more than 50%. The air conditioner temperature should be more than 25 degrees Celsius and maximum air circulation should be ensured. People with co-morbidities and senior citizens above 65 years of age should be barred from boarding,โ€ said a G.O., issued by Chief Secretary Rajeev Ranjan.

As per the SOP issued, passengers must cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth and should board only from the rear door and alight from the front door.

โ€œIf all seats are filled in the buses, passengers shall not board the bus and shall wait for the next bus,โ€ the guidelines state. Passengers with fever, cough and other ailments will not be permitted to travel on the buses.

Local bodies are to ensure that all bus stops and terminals are cleaned and well- maintained.

All state transport undertakings will promote the issuance of monthly passes to passengers using city/town bus services to avoid cash transactions. โ€œWherever possible, QR code panels may be deployed, including inside buses and on ticket and pass-issuing counters. Once the QR code is scanned by the passenger and the amount filled and debited from their wallet, they can show it to the conductor, who will then issue a ticket to them,โ€ it said.

Seats that are to be occupied by passengers and seats to be left vacant shall be marked to ensure physical distancing inside buses.

The body temperature of the crew will be checked daily before the commencement of duty. The crew will use a facemask and gloves while on duty. All crew will be provided with a bottle of sanitiser for personal use, the order said.

โ€œLine-checking inspectors should be deployed at bus stops to ensure that passengers board the buses maintaining physical distancing, besides controlling crowd, in case enough seats are not available in the bus, and checking ticketless travelers,โ€ it said.

The decision of the State government to allow air-conditioning facilities in buses follows a communication from the Transport Commissioner, who said due to non-operation of buses with air conditioning facilities, the revenues of all Tamil Nadu STUs were affected. The Transport Commissioner observed that as the spread of COVID-19 had reduced, vehicles with air conditioning may be allowed to run for the operation of STUs/private operators.

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