Monday unleashed a twister of travel woes for thousands of commuters, as more than 250 private bus operators halted operations between Bengaluru and different Kerala destinations. The Interstate Bus Operators Association, Kerala, had called a strike protesting alleged harassment by the Kerala Motor Vehicles Department.
Thousands had to either cancel their travel plans or rely on KSRTC buses run by Karnataka government. However, rail travel was not an immediate option for many as most trains are always overbooked weeks and months in advance. Flights had turned way too expensive.
Desperate for alternatives, many commuters made a last ditch attempt to get into the South Kerala bound trains originating from Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru City railway station and Yeshwantpur terminal. The general compartments were packed beyond capacity.
Unless both the Kerala and Karnataka governments introduce at least 100 additional buses, the commute crisis will get worse, Karnataka Kerala Travellers Forum (KKTF) General Convenor R Muralidharan told DH.
“The governments should address this on a war-footing as an estimated 10,000 people travel between the city and Kerala daily,” he said.
Most private buses headed to Thrissur, Alappuzha, Pattanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and other South Kerala destinations are packed even on weekdays. Since there is only one daily train to North Kerala, the Yeshwantpura-Kannur Express, many rely on private operators to go to Kannur, Thalassery and Kozhikode.
Besides, destinations such as Wayanad and Kottarakkara in the South cannot be reached by train. Those who could afford it pooled and planned to head out of the city by their own cars and SUVs. Many complained that they could
not even open websites and mobile Apps of bus booking agencies.
“Those headed to Thiruvananthapuram are planning to get to Marthandam on the Tamil Nadu border and make other arrangements from there. Those going to Ernakulam and other areas have proposed to reach Coimbatore somehow and then take Tamil Nadu buses,” informed
Rejikumar from Kerala Samajam.
Cheap flights to Kochi had emerged as an alternative to expensive luxury bus travel months ago.
But with hundreds of passengers now looking at this option, air tickets too started climbing northwards. Tickets earlier available for Rs 1,400 were priced beyond Rs 2,800.
Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram flights too were expensive at Rs 3,800 and beyond. However, tickets from the city to Kannur, where a new international airport was recently launched, hovered around luxury bus rates at Rs 1,800.