Kolkata: Commuter woes continue as several private buses stay off roads | Kolkata News


People are waiting for bus at Esplanade (PTI)

KOLKATA: Commuters in Kolkata and suburbs had a tough time in reaching their destinations on Tuesday with sevearal private buses going off the roads demanding a fare hike in view of high fuel costs and restrictions on the number of passengers to mitigate Covid-19 risks.
The fleet strength was increased by the West Bengal government-operated WBTC, but it was inadequate to cope with the demand.
The government buses took only as many passengers as its seating capacity.
Throwing caution to the wind, commuters at several places in the city and the suburbs forced their way into already crowded private buses, that were available to reach their workplaces.
The operators’ associations of private buses, which carry the bulk of passengers in the state, said, it would not be possible for them to ply their vehicles owing to the mounting losses caused by high diesel price and lesser number of passengers than in pre-coronavirus times.
Tapan Banerjee, general secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, one of the largest associations of private bus operators in the city and the districts, said that they are unable to provide passenger bus services in view of daily operating losses.
“Even fuel cost cannot be met from the fares realised at the end of the day, leave alone other expenses related to vehicle insurance, road tax and maintenance,” Banerjee said.
According to All Bengal Bus Minibus Sammanoy Samity (coordination committee) general secretary Rahul Chatterjee, a permanent solution like hiking the bus fare will ensure that the business remains viable.
He said the coordination committee has not called for any stoppage of services, but given the losses being incurred daily, owners are withdrawing vehicles from the routes.
“We have not called for stoppage of services. Under the present circumstances, it is up to the bus owners to take a call whether to continue with the operations or withdraw vehicles from the routes, he said.
A section of private buses started plying in the city and other districts since the Unlock-1 commenced on June 8 in the state, but the associations have been demanding a fare hike in order to sustain the services.
With suburban trains and metro railway services still suspended, commuters have to depend on buses, autorickshaws and taxis, which are also few.



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