ANDHRA PRADESH

RTC strike: hired bus crew make a killing

TEST OF ENDURANCE: People waiting at the Imlibun bus station here on Tuesday.

TEST OF ENDURANCE: People waiting at the Imlibun bus station here on Tuesday.  

Charge high fares and refuse to accept RTC passes

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Travelling public bore the brunt of the indefinite stir by the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation employees for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.

Paying through the nose and packed like sardines, office-goers, school and college students underwent severe hardships travelling in private buses, auto rickshaws and seven-seaters, which went on gravity-defying runs.

With the Transport Department giving permits in a free wheeling manner, all modes of transport, including mini vans and big wagons, hit the road.

Piling on the agony, several hired bus crew in the RTC buses began fleecing the passengers demanding more than the usual fares and even refusing to accept valid bus passes.

Heated arguments ensued in the buses, but the hapless passengers had to relent. "How can my bus pass issued by the APSRTC not be accepted? And why should we pay more," asked Chakradhar, a student of Loyola Academy, boarding the 16A service running between Secunderabad and ECIL X Roads.

Bus `boycott'

This was the scenario all over the city and commuters had to pay a rupee or two more than the normal fare. A peeved Sudarshan, working as an office boy in a surgical store in Nampally, chose to get down from a packed bus after a prolonged argument with the conductor over the tariff. "It is better to take the MMTS train. For a lesser price I can travel hassle-free to Hyderabad," he said, walking to the Secunderabad Railway Station.

Notice to private buses

Saying he had received several complaints on the matter, the APSRTC City regional manager, C. Panduranga Murthy said notices were served on several private bus owners not to charge more and accept the bus passes. "All and sundry are operating the buses and crew members have been fleecing the commuters. We are trying to instil some discipline, but utter confusion prevails and the blame is being put on RTC." The RTC city region operated 696 buses against 571 on Monday.

RTA permits

Meanwhile, theRanga Reddy district RTA authorities have decided to issue permits to private passenger vehicles to ferry commuters in the wake of the strike by RTC employees. Permits will be issued at the RTA offices at Uppal, Medchal, Ibrahimpatnam and Shapur as the process has been decentralised for the convenience of private vehicle owners, according to the Deputy Commissioner, Transport, Sudhakar.

He appealed to owners of school buses, company buses and other private carriages to come to the rescue of the travelling public. Vehicle tax of Rs. 100 per day will be collected from them to ply the buses.

Taking advantage of the strike, traders increased the prices of vegetables and other essential commodities.

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