CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a article published in The New Indian Express. He says government should help in modernising the vehicles by giving a subsidy, thereby promoting public transport. A dedicated lane for private buses and scientific designing of bus stops can prevent accidents to some extent.

Image source: The New Indian Express

The official apathy in strictly implementing the High Court order that all buses should transport passengers with the doors closed has claimed another life in the city.An 85-year-old woman became the latest victim of the callous attitude of the authorities after she fell from a private bus at Kothamangalam and died on Sunday. Aliyamma, a native of Paingottur near Kothamangalam, died immediately after falling from the bus which had kept its pneumatic door open in stark violation of rules. 

Though the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) has launched several drives against private buses for not complying with High Court directive to install passenger doors and keep them closed, it has miserably failed in preventing private bus operators from flouting the safety rules.While some buses ply with their doors strapped to the vehicle’s body, others leave the pneumatic door entirely open. Result: Passengers are thrown out of the vehicle if sudden brakes are applied or when they lose balance. 

A fact check by TNIE at the busiest junction at Kaloor on Monday found that only 65 per cent of private buses were complying with the rule to fix doors. While the remaining 35 per cent vehicles had a pneumatic door or manual door affixed, they remained open even when the vehicle was moving. “A person would be lucky if he/she de-boards a private bus without any injury. The bus operators have fixed the doors only to avoid a fine or escape police or MVD scrutiny,” said Prathapan Vyttila, an activist. 

He said levying a meagre amount as fine or mere suspension will not solve the problem. Only stringent action, like cancellation of the licence of the driver and would ensure a positive result, he said.Though the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) had decided to enforce the rule on bus doors a year ago following the High Court verdict, neither the MVD authorities nor the bus operators are willing to enforce or follow it.

“We are far behind in modernising public transport than other countries. For instance, with the commissioning of the Kochi Metro, several bus stops have been set up. However, most of them have not been scientifically designed,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research, a Kochi-based think-tank.He said the government should help in modernising the vehicles by giving a subsidy, thereby promoting public transport. A dedicated lane for private buses and scientific designing of bus stops can prevent accidents to some extent, Dhanuraj said.

30 pc are bad apples
Ernakulam regional transport officer K Manoj Kumar said the frequent campaigns by the MVD had forced bus operators to start using doors. “We are constantly monitoring the buses and conducting enforcement drives in the city. However, it is a fact that nearly 30 per cent of the buses are not properly following the rules. Last year, we suspended the licence of several bus drivers. We will conduct a special drive to monitor the vehicles,” said Kumar.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on February 18, 2020 click to read