Thousands stranded as poll duty buses deployed

Highlights: 
More than 7,500 buses belonging to KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC were commandeered for election duties since Thursday night.
Private transport companies made the most of the mess by doubling and, in some cases, even tripling the fares.

Nearly 2,000 people who wanted to be home to vote in Saturday’s elections were stranded at the Kempegowda bus station as the deployment of the state transport buses for elections depleted the fleet on Friday.

At the platform for Hassan buses, Parvatamma was harrying her granddaughter to check the buses heading into the station. “We’ve been waiting for three hours to board a bus to Moodigere,” Parvatamma sighed. “Usually, there’s a bus in half an hour, but we’re not sure when it will come.”

Hassan buses seemed somewhat regular compared to services for North Karnataka. Mallikarjun, who sheltered from the pouring rain with his wife and three-year-old child, had to frequently bolt to the entrance to check the name boards on the incoming buses.

“We arrived an hour ago and there’s no one to give any information on the next departing bus,” Mallikarjun lamented. “We’ve to go to Gangavati and take another bus from there to Gunduru. All the buses are crowded. I hope at least my wife will get a seat.”

KSRTC officials at the station said buses departing in the morning were crowded and they had a tough time mollifying the agitated passengers waiting for hours. “We announced through the media that there’ll be disruptions in our services. We tried our best to ease the inconvenience.”

More than 7,500 buses belonging to KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC were commandeered for election duties since Thursday night, which meant the transport companies had to run a much depleted fleet for the public.

Fares hiked  

Private transport companies made the most of the mess by doubling and, in some cases, even tripling the fares. Tickets in the Bengaluru-Hubballi air-condition service by leading operators jumped from Rs 750 to Rs 1,400, while fares on AC sleepers soared from Rs 850 to Rs 2,000. Those prepared to pay the higher fares found that seats in several buses had been sold out. The empty seats in ticket booking apps and websites were already taken.

“We can’t rely on trains as the rail network in Karnataka is poor. The government should double the fleet of state transport buses or issue permits to more private operators for the public’s convenience,” said Nandish G, who was trying to board a bus at the Anand Rao Circle.

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Thousands stranded as poll duty buses deployed

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