Commuters stranded during strike by bus crew

Around 70% of KSRTC’s fleet remained off the road as a result of which services to Bengaluru from Hassan, Mysuru and other districts were badly hit

Bus services in Bengaluru and across Karnataka were crippled after thousands of drivers and conductors of State-run road transport corporations decided to go on a strike demanding that they be made government employees with all benefits.

The strike caught transport corporations off guard. Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) officials told The Hindu only 128 of the 5,000 buses scheduled on Friday morning were operated. With no alternative plan in place, commuters were stranded at Majestic, Shivajinagar, Yeshwantpur, Shantinagar and other hubs.

Intra-city bus services hit

Officials with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) said that 70% of its fleet remained off the road, as a result of which services to Bengaluru from Hassan, Mysuru and other districts were badly hit. and passengers were forced to rely on personal vehicles.

NWKRTC personnel also struck work and held protests in most districts in north Karnataka. In Belagavi, drivers, conductors and supervisors gathered at the bus stand and depot, but did not report for duty and instead shouted slogans against the government.

The number of trips from Mysuru to Bengaluru was cut by almost half. A senior KSRTC official in Mysuru told The Hindu that over 50% of drivers and conductors attached to the Mysuru Rural division did not report for work

The lack of services caused great inconvenience to people commuting to work, those who arrived in Bengaluru in the morning unaware of the strike and college students.

People who arrived in Bengaluru from other cities in the morning were forced to shell out huge amounts to autos and private buses. In Hoskote, crew were seen allowing passengers to sit on top of the bus putting their lives at risk.

Muniyamma, who had reached the KSRTC bus stand in the morning after travelling from Yadgir, said, “Around 7 a.m., I reached the bus stop with my three children. I was looking for a bus to Gollarahatti on Magadi Road, but none were available. Hotels inside the bus stop were closed due to the strike,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. Had I known that the protest would impact services, I would not have come.”


Stray instances of violence

Protesting employees stopped KSRTC buses at Mysuru Satellite bus stand, Kengeri, Nelamangala and other areas in the morning. Miscreants damaged the wind shield and side mirrors of buses on the road. KSRTC officials said that 32 cases of buses being damaged were reported on Friday at Kengeri, Bangarpet, on the Mysuru-Bengaluru road and other areas.

Autos overcharge commuters

Across Bengaluru, there were reports of autorickshaw drivers and private bus operators fleecing hapless passengers. People who had arrived from other cities were especially badly hit.

Pratheeksha, a passenger, said, “The staff of the BMTC should have informed the public in advance about the strike. For a short distance, auto drivers were demanding ₹300.”

At Majestic, auto drivers were charging double rates. “Later, a few people along with the police intervened and helped us get autos at regular rates,” said an outstation passenger.

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Sagar Biswas

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