Karnataka transport strike: Private buses overcharge, fail safety standards, riders say | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Commuters forced to rely on private transport players because of the strike claim they are being overcharged and made to travel in cramped, unfit vehicles. They allege authorities are turning a blind eye to the operators’ violations.
An official of the transport department said the government had provided some leeway to operators to ease the impact of the strike.
“Vehicles without a fitness certificate and insurance have been allowed to ply during the strike. We have also allowed vehicles that were surrendered earlier and granted temporary tax exemption. These measures are aimed at reducing the hardship of passengers during the strike,” the official said. “It’s a challenge to deploy private vehicles on routes that are generally served by more than 15,000 buses of state-run corporations.”
Another official said that acting against private operators accused of fleecing passengers was tricky at the moment. “If we take action, they may stop services, which affect the public,” he said.
K Arun Kumar, who was waiting for a ride at Majestic, alleged that private buses were demanding two times higher fares. “Transport department officials are here, but they are only giving statements to the media. They are not cracking down on such operators,” he said.
Transport commissioner N Shivakumar said that the department had not received any specific complaint about overcharging. “Nearly 24,000 buses, mini-buses and maxicabs have been deployed across the state. We have not received any particular complaint. But we have asked them to display the fare table in the vehicle. We are also putting it up at major bus stations,” he said.
On private buses that are not roadworthy, Shivakumar said: “These are rumours. Only 99 out of the 5,000 surrendered permits are currently operational. The validity of fitness certificates that were ending by February 1, 2020, was extended till June 30, 2021, because of Covid-19. Our officials are at all major bus stations and monitoring the condition of vehicles. We have not seen any unfit buses.”
MN Srihari, a traffic safety expert, said that ending the strike was the best solution. “These are emergency operations, so there are calculated risks,” he said.
Srinivas Alavilli, head of civic participation at NGO Janaagraha, said that private players lacked accountability. “State transport units, particularly BMTC, have earned public trust. Most commuters prefer them to private transport. Private operators have no accountability. Who will take the responsibility if something goes wrong? The state government and unions of transport employees should sit together and resolve the stalemate immediately, so that people don’t suffer,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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