Bus driver Satyanath says it is not for nothing that they keep on pressing horn asking for way. “We have to reach designated points by the time given to us. If we fail to do so we have are not provided time to halt at that stop and we have to go ahead without passengers. If we do not get necessary passengers, it affects our income,” he says.

Mr. Satyanath, who has been in the profession for nearly five years, shows his swollen right leg.

“This is a result of long use of accelerator peddle. Nothing to worry, it's a professional hazard. We are used to working under pressure,' he says.

The condition of Mr. Satyanath is similar to that of many private city bus drivers and conductors operating in the city.

“We are poorly paid and our jobs are not secure. But we go on as we do not know any other occupation,” says a conductor, who has been in the profession for four decades. He refused to give his name fearing action by the owner of the bus he operates.

The drivers and conductors work in shifts (6.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.) and (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.). If one set of driver and conductor comes for the morning duty on a route on one day, the pair will come for the evening shift the next day. “We are paid a salary of Rs. 175 a day, while driver gets Rs. 125 per day. This salary also varies from one transport operator,” says the bus conductor.

The drivers and conductors rued the absence of security in their job. “If we do not meet the target (of passengers) per day, we are thrown out. Many are waiting to take up the job. We do not have unity in fighting for a cause as we see in Kerala,” says driver Suresh. Conductor Somesh says the drivers and conductors are not covered under the provident fund or pension schemes. “We are dependent on what we earn from the trips we make,” says conductor Somesh. “Our conditions were better when we were working under transport companies such as CPC,” he added.

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