Operators running buses without emergency exits will face a determined Transport Department which has vowed not to let such buses ply from May 1. This move comes months after a deadline was imposed on all operators to install emergency exits. Officials, however, said compliance is quite low.
“Beginning May 1, we will not let buses without emergency exits run at all. They will not be fined or confiscated. But we will ensure that they do not ply here. This move comes due to a report that says that fatalities in accidents were due to an absence of proper exits,” Transport Commissioner K Amarnarayana said.
He said the rule applies not just to luxury buses of any one brand, but to all buses which ply in the State.
KSRTC is confident that it would be able to meet the deadline. “Ninety-five per cent of the work is completed and only four luxury buses are left to be fitted with emergency exits. This is being done as we speak. The work is being carried out in our own workshops,” BNS Reddy, acting Managing Director of KSRTC, said.
The deadline was issued by Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy after a spate of incidents in the past six months, involving buses catching fire leading to casualties. An accident involving a luxury bus run by a private operator, which crashed into a road culvert near Mahbubnagar (Andhra Pradesh) on October 30 last year, led to the death of 43 people.
A Volvo spokesperson said the company has already made the installation of emergency exit doors mandatory for all buses sold in the state. The exit doors are located on the right-hand side of the bus and conform to guidelines laid out specifying the height from the ground. “Private bus operators are also contacting us for installation,” he said.
Besides Volvo, other companies like Mercedes also sell luxury buses in the state and are expected to comply with the order. Reddy said initially the Transport Department would check for emergency doors only. “We will slowly start checking for implementation of the other points that we had insisted on to ensure passenger safety,” he said.
Close to 3,000 buses are yet to install emergency doors according to estimates by the minister.
“It will take us around 10 days to ensure the rule is enforced. They had five months to comply, there will be no more extension,” he added.