The indefinite bus strike, which is set to enter its twelfth day on Sunday, has been particularly hard on citizens who are unable to work from home. These include domestic workers, factory employees, hospital staff who have been spending an increasing amount of their salaries on vans, autos and taxis to travel to work.
Private bus operators, who have stepped in to fill the gap, are not reliable when it comes to operating at fixed times, said passengers.
Bhavani, who was waiting for a bus at Majestic bus stand with her daughter on Saturday, had to go to a hospital in Bannerghatta Road. “The strike, especially during the time of the pandemic, is a huge inconvenience to us. There are very few BMTC buses on the roads, and autorickshaw drivers’ deamnds are beyond our means. Private buses do not leave the stand unless they fill all the seats. To get a bus, one has to wait for at least 30 minutes.”
Lakshmi P., who works in a beauty parlour, said, “I have to travel every day from Peenya industrial area to Banashankari III Stage. The number of private buses is limited. To reach my workplace on time, I depend on my husband and brother-in-law to drop me and pick me up.” She added that if the strike had been just for a day or two, she could have taken leave.
At Majestic bus stand, autorickshaw drivers have started parking their vehicles inside the premises.
Prasad, an auto driver, did good business for the first five days of the strike, but that is gradually changing. “I have been driving an auto in Bengaluru for more than 10 years. Picking up passengers from the platform of the bus stand is very unusual. I dropped a passenger from Mathikere to Majestic and waited for a new passenger. Usually, people prefer to travel in city buses,” he said.
Pass holders demand compensation
Passengers who have monthly passes are demanding compensation from BMTC.
One of them said, “I had paid over ₹1,000 for the pass, but for more than 10 days, I have not been able to travel by bus. When I visited the counter, BMTC staff told me that the management will decide on compensating the loss after employees call off the strike.”
BMTC issues around 3 lakh passes per month.
When asked about their grievances, BMTC Managing Director C. Shikha said they will take suitable measures to address the issue.
A similar request was made by passengers in Mysuru.
K.H. Srinivas, Mysuru Divisional Controller, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation said all daily bus passes will be extended by as many days as the strike.
BMTC operates more than 1,200 buses
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation on Saturday operated more than 1,200 buses on Saturday.
Managing Director C. Shikha told The Hindu that day by day, the number of people reporting back to duty is increasing. “As more number of employees are reporting for duty, the number of buses plying on the road has increased. We are hoping that more buses will be operated in the coming days,” she said.
Prior to the strike, the BMTC operated around 5,600 buses in the city. On Saturday, all the four RTCs operated close to 7,000 buses.
(With inputs from Mysuru)