India is scrubbing its dirty public transport amid the coronavirus outbreak

Travel in times of corona.
Travel in times of corona.
Image: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
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India’s public transport system is a key element to be considered amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trains, buses, and other modes of mass transport in India, which are mostly overloaded and often unhygienic, can prove to be catalysts during such outbreaks. Cognizant of this problem, the government has decided to sanitise the Delhi Metro and Mumbai’s local trains, and improve the hygiene conditions on the two.

On March 15, railway minister Piyush Goyal tweeted a video of train coaches being cleaned.

Railway authorities in Mumbai have trained their staff to identify patients with Covid-19 symptoms. On average, over 5,000 people travel on a single trip of a local train in Mumbai during peak hours.

Delhi Metro authorities are taking precautionary measures and cleaning up stations at regular intervals.

The Delhi Transport Corporation buses, too, are being subjected to a thorough cleansing. The Delhi government, on March 11, launched a disinfection drive towards this end.

But what about the private players?

Aviation and road transport companies are going out of their way to reassure anxious passengers.

On March 13, Ronojoy Dutta, CEO of India’s largest private airline, IndiGo, informed customers about plans to reduce the risks of Covid-19 in the company’s aircraft. “At every stage of your journey with IndiGo, we’re taking every measure possible to ensure compliance with the best advice from medical authorities and the government,” he said in a note.

On the same day, Vinay Dube, CEO of low-cost carrier GoAir, too, wrote a similar letter to customers. Airlines like Vistara and SpiceJet are also doing their bit. The airlines have intensified the cleaning of their respective aircraft and have instructed the staff to wear protective equipment like masks and gloves before boarding the plane, in order to prevent the virus.

Taxi aggregator Ola is providing its drivers hand-sanitisers and face masks, training them to maintain personal and cab hygiene. “If drivers notice customers displaying flu-like symptoms, they will immediately reach out to 24×7 Ola Care helpline,” Ola said in a statement on March 10.

Uber is consulting an epidemiologist to help with its efforts, a company statement on March 16.