Bus services were affected in many parts of the state as drivers and conductors of the four road transport corporations began their indefinite strike over wage-related issues on Wednesday. Passengers travelling to and from distant areas and office-goers were the most affected.
Hundreds of commuters were left stranded at bus stations across the city, with BMTC buses staying off the roads. While some waited long hours at bus stations for privates buses, others looked for alternative arrangements. Some even opted to work from home or postpone their travel.
Many made a beeline to Namma Metro stations to reach their destinations even as bus stations and terminals wore a deserted look.
To ensure that commuters do not suffer further, the State Government is planning to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa declared in Belagavi on Wednesday.
Don’t fleece passengers, CM warns pvt operators
The government had fulfilled eight of the nine demands made by transport employees’ unions and it is unfair of them to not relent, the CM said. “The agitation of the employees has no logical reason. We will wait for two more days and then take all necessary action against them,” the chief minister said. The CM also warned private transporters of stern action if they are found demanding excess fare from passengers.
In several cities, including Bengaluru, bus services were thrown out of gear from Tuesday afternoon itself. The Transport Department had deployed over 1,000 maxi-cabs and 1,500 private buses across the state. The transport unions had announced the indefinite strike as the government failed to accede to their demand of fixing wages on par with the 6th Pay Commission recommendations.
To mitigate inconvenience to passengers in the coming days, the KSRTC officials have held talks with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and they have agreed to ply 300 inter-state buses from each state. “They have also agreed to stretch their normal route and cover other districts. For example, a bus coming to Bengaluru will run up to Mysuru. They have also agreed to increase the fleet to 500 buses,” an official said.
“On Wednesday, 300 buses from Tamil Nadu, 125 from Andhra Pradesh, 20 from Telangana and 25 from Kerala operated. Five KSRTC buses to Tirupati, Secunderabad, Vijayawada, and Hyderabad left Bengaluru at 8pm,” a KSRTC official said.
“Private bus operators have also agreed to chip in. The government has also relaxed provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act as regards permits and licence,” he said.According to Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) officials, 145 buses operated despite the strike and 1,124 private buses and about 2,000 maxi-cabs operated in the city. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) officials said 264 buses and 3,152 private buses operated services. Similarly, 1,645 private buses operated for NWKRTC and NEKRTC operated 3,234 schedules.
According to an official release, KSRTC suffered Rs 7 crore loss, BMTC Rs 3 crore, NWKRTC Rs 3.5 crore and NEKRTC Rs 3.5 crores on Wednesday alone. Stray incidents of damage to buses were reported in Attibele and Subramanya police station limits and FIRs were registered.Meanwhile, a BMTC circular stated that if the staffers do not return to work, disciplinary action wil be taken against them.