Wednesday’s Mahbubnagar accident, in which 45 people in a Bangalore-Hyderabad Volvo bus were burnt alive, has raised several questions about passenger safety.
For starters, though buses have emergency exits, few people know about them or how to open them. Some buses, in violation of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, do not even properly indicate where the emergency exits are.
A day after the accident, the Transport Department seems to have woken up. Principal Secretary P Ravi Kumar issued a circular on Wednesday instructing all state-run transport corporations to install red bulbs to indicate the location of emergency exits.
“Many people do not know where the emergency exits are. Both private and government bus operators must ensure that directions to the emergency exits are prominently displayed and exits are indicated using bold letters and a small red bulb,” the circular addressed to the Transport Commissioner and managing directors of all four state-run public transport corporations stated.
On Thursday, KSRTC issued a circular to all its depots instructing them to educate passengers on where the exits are and other measures.
Private bus operators are also looking at what can be done. “Apart from ensuring that passengers know where the emergency exits are, we are also contemplating adding more exits,” said P George, proprietor of Geo Travels, in Kammanahalli.
He added that most luggage pieces go unchecked. “I believe it is very unlikely that the entire bus could have gone up in flames so quickly unless there was some combustible material in it. It is possible that the bus operator did not know about it because nobody checks the luggage in buses,” he said. .
KSRTC managing director Manjunath Prasad believes it is difficult to check the baggage of all passengers travelling on government buses.
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