Despite additional fleet of private and mini buses hitting the city roads today, commuters’ woes in Kolkata continued as those proved to be inadequate for the large numbers of office goers, workers and other passengers.
With more than half of the total numbers of private buses being rolled out , although the frequency of private buses increased than the past few days, it failed to bring much relief to the commuters.
Crowds of passengers were seen at several bus stops struggling to get into bus. As passengers, only up to the seating capacity of the buses, are allowed by the state government, those availing buses from the middle of the routes were inconvenienced.
The bus operators informed that the situation will improve as 90 per cent buses are expected to be rolled out in the next few days.
The city commuters are also faced with the problems of increased fare. Despite strict instructions from the state transport department to operate buses at the existing fare chart, some of the private operators, were found charging higher fare from the commuters.
Without any approval from the government authorities or a declared fare chart from the RTA, conductors in some routes, charged rupees 10 as the minimum fare from the passengers instead of rupees seven, leading to chaos and annoyance among the commuters. Saini Halder was charged rupees 10 for travelling 2km from Ultandanga.
Uttam Ghosh, paid rupees 15 for a commute of rupees nine from Ultadanga to Salt Lake.
“If anyone charges higher fare, it is not with our consent,” said a member of the Bus and Minibus Owners’ Association.
“Appropriate action will be taken if anyone is found violating the norms,” he added. At several places, passengers were desperate to reach their workplace, boarded bus with seats already full and insisted on commuting while standing. At some traffic points, cops took to handling of the situation and de-boarded the extra passengers or even checking conductors for charging higher fare.
According to sources, state transport department officials also came out on roads to see if any operator was charging fare higher than the existing chart.
Meanwhile, private buses services were halved in Burdwan (East) district and this time, as the operators claimed, was dearth of passengers that resulted in severe cash loss. In second week of May, the state had ordered plying of private buses in Orange Zones with a maximum intake of 20 passengers to prevent spreading of Covid-19.
The Federation of District Bus Owner’s Association in Burdwan (East) had demanded that meagre 20 passengers won’t help gain adequate revenue to meet the cost of fuel and wages of the crew members.Now, after the state allowed plying of buses with full intake, the operators further have stopped services here on the plea that rolling of the buses on the roads was hitting their exchequer badly as the federation complained that dearth of passengers in different terminals as well as on the stoppages, has discouraged the operators to continue. The services were withdrawn from Thursday.
On Wednesday, nearly a hundred out of total 900 buses appeared on the roads. Rajat Nanda, ADM (General), Burdwan (East): “Now the buses are allowed to continue in full fleet capacity. They are facing certain difficulties and we have been told that their associations are discussing the matter. We are expecting the matter would be resolved soon.”