KOCHI: Ruthless driving, racing and intimidation, a private bus ride is anything but safe. As complaints pour in about the terror private buses unleash on the roads, Express reporter undertakes a journey from Kaloor to Aluva to get a first-hand experience of the rickety ride.
Getting into a private bus to Aluva, precisely at 8:55 am from Lisie Junction, proved in itself to be an arduous task as I clung on to the handrail, trying to get a foothold, with the bus speeding forward. The bus was jampacked and I could see women and elderly struggling to balance as the bus swayed back and forth due to harsh braking and acceleration.
The driver was in no mood to stop at Kaloor bus stand as he was busy racing to overtake another bus that was speeding ahead.He maneuvered through the vehicles waiting at the traffic signal to swerve past his rival and eventually landed in the middle of the road.
The driver of the other bus got furious. He got down from the vehicle and what followed was a verbal spat. Such skirmishes about flouting time schedule are common in the city.The bus moved on when the signal turned green, and the driver kept honking continuously, terrifying the two-wheeler riders, forcing other vehicles to move out of his way. The intermittent honking scared many pedestrians and I could see young women rushing to the sides of the road and staring at the driver in horror.
More rash driving followed and the driver would intentionally skip stops if there aren’t enough passengers. He would also halt the bus at his whims.Anjali S, a regular commuter, said this is the common trend among the private bus drivers. “Even if people wave their hands pleading to stop, they ignore,” she said.
On reaching Edappally, the driver changed and another adrenaline junkie took control of the wheels as he raced ahead recklessly trying to overtake a KSRTC bus. The race continued till the buses reached Kalamassery when he finally outran the KSRTC bus, overtaking dangerously from the left side, throwing traffic rules to the wind. All the while, the conductor and the helper were cheering for him.
Jayasree S, a resident of Aluva, said some drivers are so arrogant that the passengers fear to ask them to reduce speed. “My niece once lost her tooth after her face smashed against the handrails when the bus applied a sudden break,” she said.The journey was so scary that I heaved a sigh of relief as the bus reached Aluva.