Bus owners are demanding that the minimum fare be fixed at Rs.8.
The State-wide token strike on Saturday called by the Bus Operators’ Federation demanding a hike in the ticket fare evoked a mixed response in the district with a section of the bus owners staying away in view of the indefinite strike called from December 20.
The Private Bus Operators’ Association, the biggest of the three associations that make up the Bus Operators’ Federation, claimed that the strike was a runaway success with 85 per cent of the buses in the district participating in it.
However, the combine of the Kerala Bus Transport Association (KBTA) and Private Bus Operators’ Forum countered it stating that about 50 per cent of the buses plied in the district.
The strike was almost complete in the city. But that was not the case in the adjoining suburbs and towns. Autorickshaw operators within the city limits had a field day, as many of them fleeced the public who were left with hardly any other option. Roads at major points in the city were clogged with traffic overflow, as private vehicles were taken out in large numbers. Long queues of vehicles could be seen at points like Vyttila, Kakkanad, Kadavanthra, South, Palarivattom, and Goshree Bridges.
A large number of buses operated on the Aluva, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, and Kakkanad routes. However, services to the interiors from Angamaly, Manjali, and Kalady areas were completely hit putting the people to immense hardships. Parallel services were the only option available on the Angamaly-Paravur route.
The KSRTC came to the rescue of the travelling public, as it operated additional services from the Ernakulam depot in view of the private bus strike. More Thirukochi services were operated to Kothamangalam, Perumbavoor, and Aluva areas. Heavy rush was experienced in all KSRTC buses, including low floor buses.
M.B. Satyan, Bus Operators’ Federation State president, said that it was high time that the minimum bus fare was fixed at Rs. 8 and 0.65 ps for each kilometre thereafter. KBTA secretary Suresh Oommen said that each bus operator filling 100 litres of fuel a day now suffers an additional expense of Rs. 23,000 a month.