The government has decided to bring in a regulation for app buses, which will make it mandatory for a service provider to follow rules to get a licence to operate.
The transport department has prepared a policy, similar to the one for app cabs. A company which wants a licence to operate as an “app-based aggregator” will have to follow certain conditions, including ones that aim to ensure the safety of passengers and the fitness of vehicles. The policy is ready and will come into effect in March, a department official said.
The policy for app buses comes almost five years after app cabs started operating in Calcutta and several companies started queuing up for licences to operate.
Buses need to have GPS devices and CCTV cameras with a provision for keeping records for at least seven days, according to the policy. There has to be a panic button like the ones in app cabs and there has to be at least one attendant in every bus.
At no point of time can the bus driver or the attendant hail passengers along a route. Standing will not be allowed.
App bus operators will come under the purview of On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregator (ODTTA), according to the policy. This means an operating company cannot own or hire or lease out any bus. For a company to get a licence as an ODTTA, it must have an office in the state and must provide the department details of the person who is in charge of that office.
“The company will have to run an antecedent check on drivers. Passengers must have the freedom to share their location with at least five people through the app,” a transport department official said. “Passengers must be able to contact police in case of an emergency through the app.”
Another official said the decision to allow app buses was aimed at reducing congestion on roads by inviting private car users to switch to such buses with an almost similar comfort level.
App buses will ensure there is no hassle in heading to a particular destination from Howrah or Sealdah stations or even from the airport, the official said.
“App buses offer an alternative to some people who usually drive their cars or rely on app cabs for their daily commute,” Anand Shah, the city manager of Shuttl bus services, said. “We offer this service at almost one-eighth the cost of such a movement. We will wait for the policy to reach us. App buses also reduce the carbon footprint.”
Some commuters from parts of north Calcutta said app buses would help people affected by the Tallah bridge shutdown. “It’s (Shuttl) already a huge hit with those travelling to Sector V from various parts of the city,” Reshmi Ghosh, a Sodepur resident, said.
Source: The telegraph