More than 42,000 buses will remain off the road across the State

More than 42,000 buses will remain off the road across the State as the unions of major private bus operators have decided to go for a two-day strike from Thursday in support of their demand for a hike in fares.

 Two major associations — the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate and the Minibus Operators Union — have called the strike stating that it was impossible for the operators to ply if the fares were not increased.

Increased fares

 “Bus fares were last increased in the State in November 2012. Since then the price of diesel has been hiked several times,” Tapan Banerjee, joint secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate told The Hindu on Wednesday.

 While over 9,500 buses would not ply in the city, about 31,000 vehicles in the districts would stay off the road, he said.

 Transport Minister Madan Mitra told journalists at the State Secretariat that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had directed the authorities to take measures to ensure that commuters did not face any problem.

 Police have been directed to take strict action if there were attempts to prevent buses from plying, he said. “The State government has forced us to go on strike. Had there been any positive indication from the State government to initiate a dialogue on increasing the fares, we would have withdrawn the call for strike,” Mr. Banerjee said.

 Mr. Mitra, however, alleged that the bus operators were working under the influence of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He pointed out that the State government had urged the bus operators not to go on strike before the festive season.

 The State government was ignoring their interests, the bus operator unions alleged. More than 40 per cent of vehicles have gone off the road because of this attitude, they charged.