Private operators' coffers jingling

Private bus operators in the City are laughing all the way to the bank with State-run buses staying off the roads for the second day on Friday.

Roads in and around Majestic and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus station in KR Market — previously the domain of vehicles of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) — bustled with private buses. Passengers were seen negotiating with bus operators over the hefty fares being charged.

Many, however, have been forced to accept the high fares as they were left with no means to reach outstations.

Rajavarma Ballal, the president of the State Private Bus Owners’ Federation, said that private bus companies have done their best to take over mass transport in the State and that nearly 8,000 vehicles are registered in their association across the State.

“The majority of the private bus operators operate buses to places in and around Bangalore apart from districts like Chitradurga, Dakshina Kannada, Mandya, Udupi, Mysore, Tumkur and Bellary. We don’t have many private bus operators in the Northern Karnataka districts where government buses are still a dominating factor,” he said.
Ballal added that the transport department has sought to introduce more buses on the road if the KSRTC strike continues into Saturday.

“However, many of our services are preoccupied by other assignments. We will have to see whether the government’s request can be fulfilled by us or not,” he said.

Honorary chairperson of the Federation and a major private bus operator in Bangalore, K T Rajashekar, said that as many as 1,500 private buses were deployed in Bangalore on Friday as an alternative to the BMTC and KSRTC buses.

“We cannot ply buses within the City limits as we have no permission to do so. Buses going to other districts only dropped and picked up passengers along the route in the City limits,” he said.

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