As the new phase of lockdown in containment zones came into effect from 5 pm today, large numbers of commuters chose to stay indoors, leading buses to run empty on city roads.
It was only last week when the sight of commuters, jostling to get into city buses, was apparent in most parts of Kolkata. After the state government’s intervention, the bus operators had rolled out over 4000 buses to alleviate transportation woes.
However, after 5 pm today, government, private and minibuses, hardly found any passengers to ferry to their destinations.
The city roads became considerably empty. Yellow taxis and online app cabs also had very few takers. The reason could be attributed to residents of the containment zones having to stay indoors while ones in the non-containment zones, preferred not to venture out fearing they might be left stranded.
According to the bus operators’ unions, while more than 7000 private and minibuses were rolled out, the number of commuters were 40 per cent less as compared to other days. Also, several conductors and drivers, especially from North and South 24 Parganas did not turn up to work for fear of being stranded.
The absence of the drivers and conductors resulted in some buses remaining off the city roads. The office-goers and workers returning home in Howrah, faced a harrowing time in the evening.
As M.G Road, an important link for transport to and from Howrah towards Kolkata was barricaded by the police, several office goers could do little but walk back home.
Meanwhile, the taxi operators affiliated to AITUC staged a demonstration at the office of the transport department at Beltola against the hike in diesel price and submitted a deputation to the state government demanding fare hike.
“The spiralling diesel price and maintenance cost of our vehicles, will sound the death knell for us,” said Nawal Kishor Shrivastav, convenor of West Bengal Taxi Operators’ Co-ordination Committee. “Therefore, an immediate revision is required to keep the taxi operators afloat,” he added.