March 17, 2020

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Mumbai Likely To Suspend Train And Bus Services For A While

Mumbai Likely To Suspend Train And Bus Services For A While

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take a crucial decision on suspending Mumbai’s lifeline, the local train services, for a few days, as one of the measures of ‘social distancing’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said here on Tuesday.

The decision could also affect other public modes of transport like Mumbai Metro, Monorail, which could bring the entire city to a pause.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “There are options — like fumigating all train coaches, limiting the number of commuters to the seats available in each bogey to avoid crowding — being considered other than completely stopping the local train services.”

The Metro local trains ferry a total of 8.5 million commuters on a daily basis between Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. It sprawls across Central Railway plus its Harbour line and Western Railway.

Thackeray’s comments followed day-long speculation that the Maharashtra government could shut down or curtail services of Mumbai’s local trains and buses in order to prevent mass gatherings of people. Mumbai’s local trains, which are used by a large chunk of the city’s population to travel to and fro work, get notoriously overcrowded during rush housrs.

Perventing crowds from gathering is currently the most effective measure at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus. Several states, including Maharashtra, have shut down establishments and insitutions visited frequently by people.

On Tuesday, Thackeray held a meeting with the top managements of several corporate sectors at the Sahyadri Guest House to discuss the possible measures to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. He has appealed them to allow their workers to work from home.

Thackeray also has made it clear that the government employees could not be asked to stay at work for a week as speculated in a section of media. “We can’t give them a week’s holiday. However, we are thinking on reducing the working staff by almost 50 per cent in a day. We will come with a plan on this soon.”

Maharashtra currently has 38 COVID-19 positive cases, the highest in the country, with one death of a 63-year-old man with a recent history of travel to Dubai.