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National Bus Code (Relevant for GS Prelims and Mains Paper II, Direct question can be asked)

Delay in implementation of bus code:
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has postponed once again the implementation of the National Bus Code. The Ministry has stipulated January 1, 2017 as the new date for the implementation of the Bus Code which lays down the standard features of a modern bus with designs and materials assessed by regulators.

Implications of delay in implementation of bus code:
Even this extended new deadline does not include two key aspects of the Bus Code intended for passenger safety.

While the code itself is to come into effect in January, bus body builders can take an additional year after that to comply with mandated standards on body structure and strength, which are meant to protect passengers in the event of a rollover crash.

Official data show 10,537 people died in bus accidents during 2014.

Purpose of National Bus Code:
The purpose of the bus code is to introduce a structured method for body building with safety at its core, avoiding unreasonable innovative fix.

Significance of the bus code:
1. The national bus market is significant, although the share of buses among all vehicles has been dipping due to a rise in car numbers and weak investment in urban transport networks. The demand is expected to grow as commuters look for last mile connectivity to major termini through feeder buses, for school transport, and for Metro Rail connectivity.

2. The implementation of the Bus Code is a promising move that can be expected to enhance safety on Indian roads. When the bus code comes into effect, coach builders must have a body type approved by the Automotive Research Association of India or the Central Institute of Road Transport.

3. Thousands of buses operating in India are of non-standard design and features, built on hard-suspension lorry chassis and difficult to use as they have a high floor.

4. State governments lack uniform standards to approve them. There is no prescribed norm, for instance, for an emergency exit in a bus: Transport Departments adopt arbitrary regulations without any oversight or testing. 



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