The bus transport industry has faced a huge loss during the lockdown. A large number of people in the country utilizes bus services. People belonging to both urban and rural areas largely preferred travelling by bus very often. After the ease of restrictions of lockdown, people started switching to their routines that were followed before the pandemic. Everyone is commuting to work and travelling like previous times but we cannot accept the world like the way it was before. COVID-19 has changed our perspectives towards everything especially in the process of choosing travel modes and specifically public transport. In such a scenario, Is bus safe to travel where ‘social distancing’ has become the most-shouted slogan?
Not to deny the fact that the question ‘Is bus necessary?’ is to be considered more important than the question ‘is bus safe?’ Employees working on daily wages travel by bus as it saves a lot of money. During the lockdown, migrants and daily-income workers had to travel long distances to reach their homes, on foot, under the scorching sun. After the lift of lockdown, these people got back to work but cabs and personal vehicles are not quite affordable for them. The bus is the only option for their commute. But then is it safe to use buses?
Bike rentals like BOUNCE have substituted a safe equivalent for buses. They provide bikes and scooters out there for rent. People who earlier travelled on the bus to reach their workplaces can happily shift to bike rentals. These two-wheelers are given away to customers after proper disinfection and complete sanitization promising us with germ-shield. Besides being sanitized they are charging almost the same price that is equivalent to bus travel expenses. Since bikes and scooters are open modes of travel, the spread of the virus is very less as the coronavirus does not spread in the open air. A helmet, mask, sanitizer and a bike are enough to assure your safety in all ways.
Tips to maintain social distancing in a bus
After minimizing the restrictions, it is quite a challenge for the Government to provide public bus services while ensuring safety measures. According to a survey conducted in the year 2016 by NSSO, Indians using the bus from rural areas are 62% and from urban areas are 66%. In a few cities, the number of passengers is so high that it completely eliminates social distancing.
How to maintain distance in a bus for passengers?
1. Book tickets online
Just a few swipes and couple of clicks can save you from standing in the queue for long hours. Nowadays, both public buses and private buses are launching software applications for us to pre-book tickets using smartphones. This procedure is not only safe but also confirms your seat beforehand. If you do not have this option, you can ask the bus conductor to receive the ticket money using online banking applications. This not only promotes social distancing but also avoids transmission of the virus from the exchange of currency notes.
2. Maintain punctuality
Ensure that you are aware of the timings of arrival and departure of the bus. Reach the bus station or bus stop before time else there are chances you might end up being stuck in the crowd while getting into the bus. The consequences of the rush can become hazardous. While waiting for the bus or while climbing up the bus, make sure you maintain social distance with a minimum of 2 feet with the person in front and behind you.
3. Seating arrangement in alternate rows
If all the seats are occupied, there will be more number of people on the bus leading to risk. Make sure no one is seated in the seats to the front, back and adjacent of your seat. Cover your seats with disposable sheets or spray sanitizer before its usage. If you are wearing masks, it is okay to sit one person per seat.
4. Open windows
Keep all the windows open. Coronavirus cannot survive in the open air for a longer time. The constant air-flow system will lessen the chances of the virus being spread and eliminates the contamination of things or surfaces.
5. Limit interaction
In the world before COVID-19, public transport like the bus was completely filled with people without leaving gaps for air to enter. A busy bus was always a noisy bus. Today, if you are travelling by bus, limit your interaction with other passengers. In a circumstance where you cannot avoid talking, do wear your mask before you speak. The main ways of transmission of the virus include coughing, spitting or any other way in which respiratory droplets travel.
6.Sanitizer is a lifesaver
Disinfect your hands with a sanitizer every now and then. Keep a sanitizer handy always. No matter how much we maintain social distancing, our hands or any other physical components we carry may get contaminated. So sanitize your belongings as well.
How To Maintain Distance In A Bus For Drivers And Conductors
1. Bus should not be overloaded
The management of the buses should take care of social distancing. Since there is a risk of an outbreak, they should allow only limited seats to be occupied. Alternate seats should be either blocked or taped to restrict its usage. They should not allow extra passengers to enter the bus.
2. Thermal checks must be made mandatory
The temperature and the health condition of the individuals should be checked in the bus stops itself.
3. Transparent plexiglass wall around the driver
If a driver is infected, there are chances of spreading the disease from the driver to other passengers. If a transparent barrier is fixed around, the driver’s social distancing is guaranteed.
4. Disinfect bus after every ride
It is important to sanitize every corner of the bus after every ride to avoid the risk of COVID-19 to the next passengers.
So, Is it safe to use buses? Yes. If all the precautions mentioned above are taken and the rules set by the government are followed properly, it is safe to travel by bus. Since it can get too crowded if everyone starts taking the bus, it is good to choose open modes of travel like bikes and scooters to reduce the crowding of buses. Individuals who can ride a bike or scooter can very conveniently rent one without worrying about affordability as bike rent charges are almost the same as a bus fare. Having said that, irrespective of which modes of transport we choose for commuting, it is always important to note that staying cautious is the only way to fight this pandemic.