*Thursday is a general holiday entailing overtime duty payment to the crew
*BMTC authorities reportedly directed general shift crew not to report to duty
*The Corporation was taken off guard as thousands came out to prepare for the Varamahalakshmi festival
*Bus services did not improve till evening despite promise by the Managing Director
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) on Thursday reportedly directed its crew on general shift (7 am to 7 pm) not to report to duty, thereby drastically reducing the number of services and causing inconvenience to thousands of commuters.
By doing this, the Corporation seems to have intended to save on overtime duty payment to substantial number of employees, even as depot managers forced the crew who had completed their “night halt” duty (2 pm to 2 pm the next day) to extend their duty hours for another shift.
The Corporation appeared to have ignored the fact that thousands of people throng the markets in their preparation for the Vara Mahalakshmi festival on Friday. Also, hundreds were out to witness the Independence Day Flower Show at Lal Bagh and many were on their way out of Bangalore on account of long weekend.
As a result, hoards of commuters were seen waiting endlessly at major bus terminals, including Kempegowda Bus Station at Majestic, Shivajinagar, Shanthinagar, Mysore Road Terminal, K.R. Market, Jayanagar and en-route bus stops as well.
Moahmmed Idris, who was waiting for a bus to Banaswadi from Shivajinagar was aghast that though buses were there, there was no crew. “I expected a comfortable journey since it is a holiday. However, there is no service at all,” he rued. Another commuter, Sujatha Ramaswamy, who was waiting for a bus at Navarang bus stop towards K.R. Market said she would have little time to prepare for the festival as considerable time was lost in waiting for the bus itself.
As done on any other general holiday, the authorities appear to have reduced the services on Thursday, the Independence Day, on the premises that not many people would travel.
A BMTC conductor told The Hindu that he had completed his night halt duty at noon and was asked by the depot authorities to continue on duty. On the other hand, they had asked the general shift crew not to report to duty with an intention to save on overtime duty payment.
Another conductor said in his depot with about 200 services, at least 70 trip sheets were not collected since general shift crew did not report to duty. “It is inhumane to compel people who have completed their night halt duty to extend the duty by another day,” he said.
Though BMTC Managing Director Anjum Parvez told The Hindu that instruction had been issued to operate all the services, the situation did not improve even at 4.30 p.m. Hoards of people continued to wait for buses at Shivajinagar, while buses sans crew were parked at departure bays. Some buses were bound to respective depots as many crew were unwilling extend their duty hours.