Nothing wrong in operating buses sans conductors: govt.

The State government on Thursday contended that there was nothing wrong in operating State Transport Corporation buses without conductors for non stop point-to-point services. It said the passengers could stop the buses in case of emergency by pressing the bell switch provided in the front as well as rear foot boards in such vehicles.

P.W.C. Davidar, Additional Chief Secretary, Transport Department, made the submission in a counter affidavit filed before the Madras High Court in reply to a writ petition preferred by the State Transport Employees Federation (STEF), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), against operating buses without conductors.

The officer said there were eight transport corporations in the State including the State Express Transport Corporation and Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Chennai. They operate 21,555 buses with ‘stage carriage’ permits under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and about 1.75 crore passengers were transported in those buses every day.

Onus on driver

Though Rule 227 of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989 states that no stage carriage should be used in a public place without a conductor, Rule 38 fixes the responsibility on the driver of a stage carriage to double up as a conductor too and perform the duties and functions of the latter too in the absence of a conductor, he pointed out.

“The State transport undertakings operate buses for (sic) the interest of the travelling public with utmost care. However, nowadays travelling public prefer to board buses operating as point-to-point services so that their travel time is considerably saved,” he said and added that the trend had prompted State Transport Corporations to operate more number of such services.

Stating that passengers can purchase tickets at the boarding point itself, the Secretary said that 256 “conductor less” buses were being operated at present.

He pointed out that similar bus services were being operated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

He denied the petitioner federation’s claim of the drivers being put to unnecessary stress due to the absence of conductors. Global Positioning System (GPS) devices would be installed in the government buses in the future to monitor the movement of the buses and provide assistance in case of breakdown or traffic congestion, the court was told.

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