Public transport dramatically improved from Wednesday as Zupco-operated buses and kombis were allowed to increase sitting passengers to fill all seats, but standing passengers are still not allowed.
With reduced demand during the lockdown and hundreds of private buses and kombis that have joined the Zupco-franchised fleet in the last few weeks, the doubling in capacity has meant that the Zupco fleet is coping in off-peak hours with passengers able generally to catch the first Zupco bus going their way.
At times there are long pauses between buses, but generally when a Zupco bus or kombi arrives at a bus stop there are spare seats. The sight of full Zupco buses racing past a bus stop is now rare.
At times Zupco buses are parked at terminuses during the off-peak periods waiting for extra passengers.
However, in the early morning and later afternoon peak periods there is still queuing at terminuses, although this is sharply reduced.
Pirate taxis and kombis are still operating on some routes, although far fewer, and mainly pick up passengers who do not want to wait another 20 or 30 minutes for the next Zupco bus, with some still nervous that there might not be a seat on that bus. Odd routes not served by Zupco buses also attract people who do not want to take two Zupco buses to their destination.
Commuters yesterday applauded the extra seating, but called for strict adherence to measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
This week Government allowed Zupco buses to carry more passengers under health guidelines. These included use of sanitisers, fumigation and mandatory temperature testing, wearing of masks by passengers with the buses being disinfected and sanitised after every trip. Transport challenges have been growing as the formal economy joined essential services in being exempted from the lockdown now at Level 2. With companies in the formal sector now all allowed to open, a lot more people need to get to and from work.
Zupco buses on Wednesday started carrying passengers to their full sitting capacity much to the relief of the travelling public. Passengers, who spoke to The Herald confirmed that they were offered hand sanitisers upon boarding the buses.
Mr Tedious Marova, who had just alighted from a bus from Chitungwiza, said while the position taken by Government was essential to bring immediate relief there was need for Government to continue importing buses to grow Zupco's fleet.
"There has been an increase in numbers of people travelling to work so if the numbers of buses remain unchanged, people will end up overcrowding at bus stops. This will defeat the whole purpose of preventing the spread of Covid-19," he said.
Some of the commuters also urged Government to consider re-introducing kombis, although kombi owners can apply to join the Zupco fleet.