MUMBAI: Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) started operating its buses with 100 per cent passenger capacity, instead of earlier 50 per cent, from Friday morning.
MSRTC was operating its buses with 50 per cent passengers capacity, allowing only one person per seat, since resuming intra-district services from May 22 and inter- district trips from August 20 after COVID-19-induced lockdown was eased.
According to MSRTC officials, the state-run corporation is expecting increase in ridership in its buses across the state.
The decision will also bring some respite to commuters from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which is facing shortage of public transport in absence of suburban train services for common citizens.
"The state government has allowed us to run buses with 100 per cent passenger-carrying capacity (from Friday) instead of 50 per cent," said Shekhar Channe, vice chairman and managing director of the corporation, on Thursday.
"The decision will bring relief to passengers in the MMR," said Channe.
In the MMR, which covers areas from adjoining Thane, Raigad and Palgar districts, the MSRTC is operating around 550 buses.
MSRTC officials said from Friday, two passengers are being allowed on one seat in its buses, as was the norm before the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the limit of five standees in one bus remains unchanged, they said.
Channe had said passengers will have to follow COVID- 19 protocols such as wearing masks and using sanitisers while travelling in state transport buses.
According to the MSRTC, in neighbouring Gujarat and Karnataka, ST buses were already operating with 100 per cent passenger capacity.
The MSRTC is operating over 5,000 buses at present, carrying on average 5.5 lakh passengers every day.
With a fleet of over 18,000 buses, the MSRTC is one of the biggest state road transport corporations in the county.