'It doesn't look like a successful strike'

Day One

'It doesn't look like a successful strike'

Contrary to reports that buses wouldn’t ply on the two-day strike, the City’s roads were full of buses on Wednesday. There were only a handful of passengers in each, but the bus drivers say they’ve been given instructions to ply their vehicles even if there is only a single person on board.

At most bus stops, there were cops taking shelter but hardly any commuters. There were a few autorickshaws running short distances but charging exorbitant rates. It seems that many Bangaloreans decided to travel in their own cars, for there was a phenomenal increase in the number of private vehicles on the road. In an effort not to inconvenience the passengers, a few buses were also diverted from their regular routes to areas where there might be more people.

Anjum Parwez, managing director, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), explains, “The decision of whether the buses should ply or not will depend on the employees’ participation in the strike. On Wednesday morning, we found that most of our BMTC employees were willing to ply despite the strike, so we decided to run as normal. We are a monopoly organisation and consider social obligation more important than making profit, especially on a strike day.”

Anjum observes that there was less than 15 per cent of passenger load on the buses in the morning, but the numbers gradually increased as the day progressed.

“We have incurred a loss of about Rs two crore on a single day,” he adds. According to Anjum, there were 1,700 buses on the road on the first day of the strike.

The drivers of the BMTC buses point out that there were just five or six people on board. Sharanappa, the driver of Route No. 300, that normally moves around Kasturi Nagar, was diverted to Shivajinagar. “We were asked to change routes and move to places where there were more people. The buses have never been this empty, but we can’t stop driving. We have been instructed to drive even if the passenger load is less,” he says.

Narasimha, another driver who shuttles between Majestic and Shivajinagar, observes that there was nobody on the road.

“People don’t know that buses are plying. This bus is normally overflowing with people but today, there were just a handful. However, it doesn’t look like a successful strike. Except for the autos, everything else looks normal,” says Narasimha.
 Regular bus commuters were relieved that the buses weren’t as packed as usual. Rohini Shinde, a chartered accountant, travels from BEL Road to her office on M G Road everyday.
 “I didn’t have trouble getting a bus and it was empty. I left home at the same time and reached office earlier than I do on other days,” says Rohini.

Ramyagana came to the City from Hyderabad last night, for an interview. “We caught a bus from Electronic City to reach Infantry Road for an interview on Wednesday morning. The roads looked empty and it was quite unlike the crowded, traffic-ridden City I had heard about. I could reach my interview spot on time,” she shares.

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