The scene at Delhi’s bus stops underscores a new worry for the Capital’s fight against Covid-19 and illustrates a transportation crisis. Buses are now the lone mass transit option available for a city of nearly 20 million people. The consequence is long waiting times at bus stops, where people are hardly able to keep the suggested six feet distance from one another.
Officials are urging that services be resumed in the Delhi Metro, where ridership will also need to be reduced in order to allow for social distancing, raising the possibility of crowding at and outside stations.
Delhi at present has around 6,100 buses from the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and those operated by private companies under the Cluster Bus system. Previously, these would carry 35-60 people, but are now required to take in no more than 20 in order to prevent transmission of the coronavirus on board.
But adhering to rules becomes a challenge when people spend frustrating hours waiting for transport. The wait times have now gone up to as high as three hours, from roughly 45 minutes before the pandemic.
Scientists now have evidence the virus is airborne, which suggests that the universal use of masks rather than physical distancing might be the most important solution to contain the spread of the virus. Studies have not found public transport as Covid-19 hotspots. The Covid-19 has forced the Delhi government to put civil defence volunteers to manage crowds and carry out thermal screenings to identify people with symptoms.