The state-run Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) is waiting for guidelines from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to resume its service on the twin routes across the city from September 7 in a phased manner amid Covid scare, an official said on Sunday.
“Though the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed resuming metro services across the country from September 7 under Unlock 4.0, with dos and don’ts for the safety of commuters and our staff, we need clearance from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs with guidelines specific to our operations in the city,” a metro official told IANS here.
Like other state-run transport firms, ‘Namma’ Metro too suspended its service since March 25 when the lockdown was enforced and extended, forcing thousands of commuters to switch over to alternate transport mode.
As the most popular transport mode for its punctual, efficient and cleaner service in air-conditioned coaches, the metro has been ferrying over four lakh commuters on the twin routes, covering 42.3 km across 40 well-lit stations till pre-Covid days.
“In addition to wearing mask, we have to ensure commuters maintain physical distance between them and regulate their entry or exit, as only limited number of them will be allowed in each coach to travel in the metro,” said the official.
To minimise physical contact with machines, the metro operator is set to insist all commuters switch over to smart card and avoid tokens for entering the platform and taking the metro ride.
“Though majority of the daily commuters use smart card for travel in metro, we have hundreds of people across the city and outside buying tokens at counters in all stations to ride in the metro for errands or sight-seeing. We hope many will switch over to smart card, which can be re-charged using our app,” said the official.
A joint venture of the central and state governments, BMRCL is bracing up to resume its service as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the MHA and stringent guidelines of the Union Health Ministry to ensure safe travel for hundreds of commuters in a phased manner.
“We have already made a check list of dos and don’ts ahead of resuming the service which are in compliance with the Covid-induced lockdown measures of the centre and state governments,” said the official.
Every commuter will have thermal screening at the entrance to ensure only those who show negative sign will be allowed into the metro station with mask or facial shield.
“Commuters having Arogya Setu app on their smart-phones will be mandatory. Sanitisers will be kept at the entrance of the stations for hand-washing,” added the official.
As against its capacity of carrying 1,800 commuters in a 6-coach train, the operator will allow 300-350 of them in each trip on its east-west and north-south corridors.
Spaces have been earmarked on platforms and inside coaches to maintain social distancing between the commuters to sit or stand while travelling.
The operator has incurred Rs 300 crore loss over the last five months due to the suspension of its service to contain the pandemic.