Scalpers quoted anything between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 2,500 from passengers
Gone was the hustle and bustle of the key public transit centres in the city — bus terminuses, railway stations and airports. Instead it was a strange quietude and emptiness.
Outside both the railway station and airport, anxious and despondent passengers waited outside looking for a way home. The scene was markedly different at the bus terminuses, which were effectively closed with no buses plying in or out of the city. A few passengers were seen whiling away their time waiting for dusk at the Kempegowda bus-stand, even as activists rallied around the area to ensure that the strike was total.
At the railway station, the crowds were visibly thin. Given the bandh was announced weeks in advance, passengers appeared to have rescheduled their travel plans. Stranded passengers were left at the mercy of a handful of private taxis that had queued up outside the closed pre-paid taxi counter. Some taxi drivers told The Hindu a few of them were plying to “serve the public” at their “own risk”.
But Manjula, who arrived by train from Mumbai at around 9.30 a.m., said the taxis demanded Rs. 1,000 to travel less than 10 km to her residence in Murugeshpalya. She was waiting on the platform with her toddler and said she did not know about the bandh.
Another couple from Chennai said that they were waiting for relatives, who had been stalled near Rajajinagar. They were asked by a taxi driver at the stand to cough up Rs. 1,200.
Shops and stalls were open at the station. At the Railways Mazdoor Sangh office, officials said that all services inside the station were up and running.
Meanwhile, some had to change their travel plans after at least four trains were cancelled. “It does not affect travel plans much as people already knew about this bandh,” a railway official said.
In contrast, the Kempegowda bus-stand was closed and officials at the KSRTC bus-stand said that 29 buses had left the bus-stand between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. — before the bandh commenced — and two others to Kolar had left after 6 a.m. Since then, buses stopped plying in and out of the terminus, the official at the control room said.
A passenger, who had come on the morning bus from Pune, explained his long and arduous journey from Tumkur where his bus had been stopped at dawn by activists. He got a lift in a private ambulance till Rajajinagar and then a police vehicle till the bus terminus.
Passengers like him, who were planning to wait till 6 p.m. to board the bus home, were left with no food and water as all shops and stores at the KSRTC terminus were closed.
KSRTC security officials said most employees supported the bandh as it was for a “just and important cause” and there is no scope for any violence here.
At the airport
Passengers arriving at the Bengaluru International Airport by flights were not able to find transport to reach their destinations. The airport taxis, which began operations early in the morning, suspended services around 8 a.m. The few private taxis that were available were charging exorbitant amounts. For instance, Shakeer S. was asked to cough up Rs. 2,500 to go to HAL Airport Road.
On-duty police, who were in the know about the situation, said only 200 or 300 airport taxis of the 1,600 had operated since morning. Airport authorities said taxi services cautiously resumed partially around 12.45 p.m. They said that extra arrangements had been made at the arrival lounge where many passengers decided to wait till their flights took off. “Many arrived much earlier than usual and we had made additional arrangements for food and drink supplies,” said the representative.
Those taking flights out of the city on Saturday arrived in the wee hours and camped at the airport.