The indefinite strike called by the Joint Committee of Trade Unions of State Road Transport Undertakings from Thursday seriously hit commuting in Bangalore and surrounding districts, but its effect was only partial elsewhere in the State.
Thousands of passengers either remained stranded at many places or coughed up hefty amounts to use other modes of transport.
No contingency plan
The government and road transport corporation (RTC) managements, which evidently did not have any contingency plan to counter the strike, made desperate efforts to help stranded passengers, particularly in Bangalore.
While the police provided some of their vehicles to ferry people from the three major bus stations, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) management attempted to push private drivers to drive its buses from Majestic. But public opposition forced a hasty retreat as these drivers reportedly did not have either the experience or the authorisation to drive a public vehicle.
According to Bipin Gopalakrishna, Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), the strike impacted routes catered for by the BMTC and in districts such as Mysore, Mandya, Tumkur, Hassan and Shimoga serviced by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). The strike only partially hit areas catered to by the North Western Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC), headquartered in Hubli, and the North Eastern KRTC, headquartered in Gulbarga. KSRTC and BMTC officials said only about 1,000 and 500 services respectively operated on Thursday, skewering managements’ assurances on Wednesday of complete service.
NWKRTC Managing Director Manoj Jain told The Hindu that 80 per cent of the 4,100 or so schedules were normal while services in Uttara Kannada and Haveri districts took a hit. NEKRTC services in the districts of Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bidar were affected though they were almost normal in Raichur, Bellary, Bijapur and Koppal districts, a senior official said. The overall operation was about 65 per cent in this corporation.
At the railway station
Meanwhile, there was a dip in footfalls at the Bangalore City Railway Station, said a senior South Western Railway (SWR) official, attributing it to unavailability of city bus services. Praveen Pande, Senior Divisional Operations Manager, Bangalore Division, said they had kept ready additional coaches to meet any demand. “However, there has not been any unusual rush so far.”
In its efforts to break the impasse, the government called a meeting of RTCs’ union leaders in the evening, Principal Secretary (Transport), P. Ravi Kumar said.