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Delhi held to ransom by Blueline bus operators

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The new week began on a harrowing note for thousands of citizens across the Capital on Monday as they were caught off guard by the Blueline bus operators’ decision to stay off the road all day protesting against police crackdown.

Office-goers had to bear the brunt of the crisis. Hundreds of them were stranded at bus stops and traffic intersections all over the city all day waiting anxiously for buses.

“I had no information about the strike or I would not have ventured out. I avoid travelling in crowded buses as I have a heart problem,” said 61-year-old Sardar Gulzar Singh of Indirapuram waiting at Anand Vihar for a bus to Kashmere Gate.

Fifty-year-old Vijay Singh, a farmer from Garh in Ghaziabad out to meet his son in Sultanpuri, had a similar tale to tell. “I have been waiting for a bus to Mangolpuri for over two hours now. Not one bus has come since morning. I think I will have to return to my village,” he rued.

According to a senior Delhi Transport Corporation official, an average of 700 Blueline buses ply on various local routes such as Rohini, Mehrauli, Ambedkar Nagar, Jehangirpuri, Uttam Nagar and Punjabi Bagh from Anand Vihar. “But not a single bus has plied since morning. There are only passengers here today and no buses,” said he.

The situation was equally bad at Kashmere Gate with just 30-odd buses out of a 100-strong fleet plying. Services to Noida, Shadipur Depot and Sukhbir Nagar were among the worst affected.

The Blueline operators had unilaterally decided not to ply their buses on Monday. Instead they gathered at Punjabi Bagh to discuss the situation arising out of the police crackdown against reckless driving by Bluelines that has claimed close to a hundred lives so far this year.

At the end of the daylong meeting in Agarwal Dharamshala, a spokesman of the Drivers’ Ekta Manch said: “The Blueline bus drivers alone cannot be held responsible for road accidents on the Capital’s roads. Motorists, cyclists and auto-rickshaw drivers do not adhere to traffic rules and intrude into the lanes meant for buses causing accidents. So the police and the Government should stop targeting the Blueline drivers.”

Claiming that a skeletal fleet had plied on Monday, the Blueline drivers’ spokesman said another meeting has been scheduled for October 25 to review the situation.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf warned the Blueline operators of stern action if the service is not restored by Tuesday. The Minister said the Government would not buckle under pressure tactics and the operators would have to follow traffic rules and regulations.

Mr. Yusuf said buses were withdrawn from the National Capital Region and more stage-carriage buses were pressed into service on Monday to make up for the shortage of Blueline buses.

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