Bengaluru: Bus, auto, taxi services resume after 50 days

May 19, 2020 11:49 am | Updated 10:45 pm IST - Bengaluru

Passengers being screened before boarding buses at Kempegowda bus stand.

Passengers being screened before boarding buses at Kempegowda bus stand.

After a gap of nearly two months, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) resumed city bus services on Tuesday morning but faced criticism for insisting that passengers buy daily passes priced at ₹70 even for short-distance travel. For the first time, it introduced weekly passes priced at ₹300.

Buses were operated from major bus stands such as Majestic, Shivajinagar, and Shantinagar. However, the number of commuters was considerably low. C. Shikha, managing director of BMTC, said the hope is that ridership will gradually increase in the coming days. In total, the BMTC operated 2,106 buses during the day.

As a precautionary measure, BMTC allowed only pass-holders to board buses, but many passengers were reluctant to do so after they learned that they would have to buy a daily pass even to travel short distances.

Siddaraju, a commuter at K.R. Puram market, said, “The daily pass costs ₹70 and I need to go to M.G Road, for which the usual fare is around ₹20. But now I have to pay ₹70 minimum. I don’t know what kind of a system this is.”

Another passenger, Nanjunda Swamy, criticised the BMTC’s insistence on passes. “I wanted to travel from ITI to Nagawara, which costs ₹40. Why should I spend an additional ₹30? At a time when the BMTC is running limited services, they should allow us to buy tickets,” he said.

Others pointed out that they should be allowed to purchase passes online rather than at depots.

For the most part, ridership remained low even at Majestic. However, the wait time was long, as BMTC was operating only a limited number of services and allowing only 30 people to board one bus.

Frustration among commuters was evident at Majestic. Sumangala, who had to wait for over half an hour, said this system would be untenable once more people ventured out of homes to take public transport.

Ms. Shikha said they would look into some of the issues raised by the public, but maintained that passes would remain mandatory. “Public transport has been allowed with several restrictions. Passengers have been advised to buy passes in order maintain social distancing,” she said.

Autos and taxis resume

Autos and taxis services, including those on aggregator platforms like Ola and Uber, resumed services on Tuesday morning.

With hardly any working capital in hand, taxi and auto drivers are struggling to get back to plying the road. Somashekar. K., of the Namma Chalakara Trade Union, said the response to taxi and auto services was poor on Tuesday, the first day of restrictions being lifted.

“We are expecting poor business for the next couple of weeks at least. Only those operating on ride-sharing platforms got some business,” he said.

However, many Ola and Uber drivers said the day was not as good as expected for them. Manjunath H., a driver with one of the platforms, said that the curfew being imposed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. was regressive. “On a normal work day of 14-16 hours, it is not easy. With only 12 hours of operations, I will not make enough money to pay off my loans,” he said.

Another taxi driver alleged that the aggregator had deducted a higher commission. “For a 7.2-km ride, the fare was ₹123, but I only got ₹89. The rest was deducted as commission, customer service and GST.”

Most autos were ferrying people for short distances. “Many of us are dependent on people going to metro stations. I generally get business from either K.R. Puram Railway Station or Baiyappanahalli metro station, but both were closed,” said Mohammed I., an auto driver.

KSRTC operates over 1,500 buses

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, which operated 1,606 buses in different parts of the State, saw a ridership of 53,506 passengers. As many as 213 buses were operated from Bengaluru and 6,000 people travelled to various destinations such as Shivamogga, Belagavi, Mysuru, and Hubballi. There were no buses to Bidar and only limited operations to Kalaburagi, Raichur and other districts.

Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savaid said that starting from Wednesday, more buses would be made available and operations extended up to 7 p.m. The KSRTC has advised passengers to book tickets online. A KSRTC official said people travelling from one district to another need not have passes issued by the district authorities on Seva Sindhu. However, they have to furnish the relevant details to KSRTC.

Non-availability of bus timings led to confusion among passengers.

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