The Government of Punjab has decided to allow the resumption of inter-city bus operations to address the transportation needs of the general public especially ahead of Eid.
The resumption, however, is subject to strict observance of the approved SOPs that include mandatory online ticketing, contact tracing, and reduced transport fares to trickle-down benefits of low fuel prices to passengers.
The SOPs issued require maintaining social distances of at least 3 feet while boarding buses, disinfection of buses after completion of every trip, and availability of hand sanitizers at terminals and within vehicles.
Any person having a fever or cough will not be allowed to board. Passengers are required to wear masks and gloves while the adjacent seat of elderly passengers (above 65 years) is to be kept vacant. The baggage has also been restricted to the minimum under the SOPs.
Bus companies are required to manage crowds at terminals by deploying additional staff and marking positions. Frequent disinfection of waiting areas and allied facilities, terminals and bays, and the availability of soaps/sanitizers in public toilets have also been mandated by the SOPs.
Furthermore, the government has emphasized the need of contact tracing and tracking of passengers using online ticketing technology. In the case that a passenger tests positive for corona subsequent to travel, the government can now track passenger travel history and test all passengers that may have been at risk of transmission.
Currently, online ticketing facilities for all major D-Class luxury buses are available through web and app-based platforms like Bookme.pk, JazzCash, Easypaisa, National Bank of Pakistan, HBL, Bank Alfalah, and Daraz.
Online ticketing, minimizes cash handling, and physical interactions at terminals, thereby reducing passenger risk of exposure to the virus.
Online ticketing for inter-city bus services was introduced by Bookme.pk, five years ago. The company was already seeing a surge in adoption in its platform due to passenger convenience.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, online ticketing adoption could see a rapid increase of services by commuters if enforced as the only method of obtaining bus tickets.