Another hard day for commuters

Some buses hit the road after drivers return to work fearing action from the government

Even as the strike of KSRTC employees entered the second day on Thursday, a few buses hit the road after over a dozen drivers returned to work and ferried passengers on certain routes following the State government’s warning to cut salaries. However, the key public transport mode continued to remain paralysed despite the alternative transport arrangements made roping in private operators.

Though private buses, maxi-cabs, mini buses and other passenger transport vehicles came to the rescue of the stranded passengers, their numbers were limited and could not operate to many destinations, causing hardships to the travelling public.

The Mysuru rural division alone operates 5,800 trips daily from 575 buses. About 125-150 private buses were providing alternate transport services which were inadequate to meet the travel needs of the public banking on the main public transport like KSRTC.

KSRTC’s Mysuru Divisional Controller K.H. Srinivas told The Hindu that 12 drivers have reported to work and were operating services to places including Bengaluru, Hunsur, and Madikeri. “We hope others join them soon as efforts to persuade them to report back to duty are on. We are confident that more staff will resume their duties at least by tomorrow in the interest of the public,” he said.

On the private bus operators fleecing passengers charging double fare taking advantage of the situation, Mr. Srinivas said the KSRTC has already given its fare chart to the Transport Department and accordingly the private operators are supposed to charge the passengers.

“We cannot enforce this as it comes under the purview of the Transport Department which is looking into the matter. We too had come across complaints of passengers being fleeced on Wednesday.”

As the strike continued on Thursday, many passengers chose to travel by trains and the number of commuters at the mofussil bus-stand was less when compared to the numbers seen on Wednesday.

Some had rescheduled their travel plan, altering it with the train timings, especially those travelling to Bengaluru.

Meanwhile, the Mysuru rural KSRTC division alone is losing a sum of ₹85 lakh a day with nearly 575 buses going off the road.

During the previous strike, when the buses went off the road for four days, the KSRTC in Mysuru suffered a revenue loss of ₹4 crore. If the strike continues, it will cause financial distress to the corporation and make things difficult to manage as the COVID-19 crisis had caused deep stress on the RTCs which faced loss to the tune of several crores of rupees, sources in the KSRTC said.

Police have continued to deploy additional bandbust at the mofussil bus-stand to prevent any untoward incidents resulting from the strike.

Additional trains

The South Western Railway is running additional unreserved special express trains with normal fare from Mysuru connecting various districts across Karnataka in view of the strike by the RTC employees.

It has, however, requested passengers to strictly follow all COVID norms of State and Central governments, including wearing of mask, sanitisation etc, in the trains and at railway stations.

Other precautions associated with COVID-19 should also be ensured, it said.

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