Private bus operators pack in passengers fleeing Bengaluru

Not only did they defy the govt order, but they charged three to four times the actual fare

Cashing in on the rush among people to move out of Bengaluru, most inter-city and inter-state buses allowed bookings in all the seats, defying the state government’s rule to ferry passengers to 50 per cent capacity. Only the state-run KSRTC stuck to the order. Private operators were said to have charged 3 to 4 times more than the normal fare but there was no action from the transport department.

A passenger, who wanted to go back to Mangaluru owing to the lockdown, was not happy with the way private buses were filling passengers in all seats. “All buses were allowing people to book seats even though the next seat was booked. This is completely against the physical distancing norm that the government talks about. There is a high chance of covid-19 spreading faster in other cities because buses are packed with passengers,” said a software professional. It’s only the KSRTC that left one seat in each row unoccupied following the orders of the state government.

Tuesday also saw a repeat of what happened last year ahead of the state government announcing the lockdown. Bus terminals, toll booths, City’s exit roads were jam-packed with a large number of people rushing to leave Bengaluru, which is plagued with massive covid-19 cases. There were trucks, cars and even two-wheelers packed with cooking pots, luggage and household items, indicating that some do not have a plan to return to the City immediately.

“We cannot afford to stay in the City for 14 days without a job. Hence, we all decided to go back home,” said Mahantesh

, a construction labourer. The 40-year-old, who was heading to Raichur along with his wife and daughters, was not aware that the lockdown did not apply to construction activity. Getting three meals a day, he said, would not be a problem back in his hometown.

Many also complained that the cost of travelling in private buses was as high as flight charges. A journey in an air-conditioned bus to Mumbai from Mangaluru was Rs 5,000. The cost of travelling to North Karnataka from Bengaluru was anywhere between Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,500, which is more than two times the normal fare.

Transport Commissioner N Shivakumar said the officers inspected buses both on Monday and Tuesday to check whether the 50 per cent rule was being followed and to penalise operators who were charging more. The department, however, did not share the data on the number of penalties levied.

BMTC to operate 150 buses during lockdown

For the benefit of employees working in the state and central government departments and essential service sectors, the BMTC will be operating 150 buses during the two-week lockdown. Buses will be available between 6 am and 7 pm.

The corporation will be running the buses on at least 95 routes in the City, mainly from and to Majestic. Metro services however will be closed during this period.

The BMTC will also be running six Vayu Vajra services between Kempegowda International Airport and Majestic bus terminal on all days.

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Sagar Biswas

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