Kochi: As the InterState Bus Owners Association (IBOA) launched an indefinite strike from Monday, commuters travelling to Bengaluru from different destinations of the state had a torrid time finding alternatives.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) deployed an additional 14 services to the garden city to provide some respite. However, many were forced to cancel onward journey for want of seats.
"We operated 14 special super deluxe services from Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kannur and Thalassery besides the regular services," said P.M. Sharaf Muhammed, executive director (operations), KSRTC. “All the buses proceeding to Bengaluru are full. However, there is not much demand in return direction today. We have kept ready five buses at Bengaluru to be deployed on the basis of passenger demand.”
The private sector operates over 300 inter-state services besides 100 intra-state services daily catering to nearly 10,000 passengers.
Meanwhile, commuters demanded additional train services in the sector to tide over the crisis.
"With private buses staying off the roads, there is a huge gap between demand and supply," said C.E. Chakkunny, Malabar Rail Users Forum chairman. “The transport minister himself said nearly 300 transport carriers operate in the sector daily and this means there is a demand for 12,000 additional seats. Hence the state should ask railways to operate special train services to Bengaluru on an urgent basis to provide some respite. RTC buses could only provide supplement travel options."
P. Krishnakumar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passengers Association, said the state government should think of a permanent solution to address commuting woes and escape from the exploitation of private contract carriers.
“The railways have for long cited lack of platforms to receive trains for not deploying additional services to Bengaluru,” Mr Krishnakumar said. "Now that an additional platform is going to be commissioned at Baiyappanhalli next month, they should start operating more daily trains in the sector.”...