In his recent live address, Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways of India and Shipping Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India stated that public transport is expected to resume soon.

He, however, emphasised on the need to maintain social distancing and adopt safety measures like hand washing, use of sanitisers, face masks, etc. while operating buses and cars.

Keeping these aspects in mind, Centre for Road Research Institute (CRRI), a laboratory under the government’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has introduced a strategic plan to enable safe public transportation.

CRRI suggests a combination of two approaches — redesigning facilities enabling social distancing (approach A) and reducing demand and capacity enhancement (approach B).

Approach A suggests painted markings for social distancing around bus stop areas, on footpaths; increased stopping time / alighting for bus and metro; separate gates for boarding and descending while travelling by bus and metro; limit number of commuters inside bus and metro coach and a separate lane for buses to improve the capacity of bus service.

Approach B recommends the need to reduce demand for public transport by encouraging short trips by non-motorised modes and intermediate public transport modes (cycle rickshaws and autos); shops, markets, offices having public dealings to be opened for a longer duration to avoid larger gathering and crowds; encourage advanced booking for bus and metro by up to 80 per cent and staggered timings for office-goers.

The guidelines also include splitting zebra crossing into two parts for each direction or by marking two separate crossings; displaying information about vacant seats in a particular metro coach; commuters should avoid touching the scanning machine using tokens/cards; only one person per seat should be allowed in buses and seating capacity should be limited.

The full report can be viewed here.