Commuters face tough time due to absence of adequate buses on city roads

Kolkata, Jun 2 (PTI) With most private buses still off the roads, commuters on Tuesday faced a harrowing time in reaching their workplaces on time as government-run buses could not cope with peak-hour rush.

Many private offices and establishments had opened from Monday but lack of adequate transport facilities continued to hamper movement of people even on Tuesday.

The state government had on Saturday extended the lockdown till June 15, but allowed total attendance in micro, small, medium and large industries from June 1.

State transport undertakings such as the WBTC, North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) and the South Bengal State Transport Corporation (SBSTC) are operating services in the city and in the districts, but the number of buses were far from adequate, said an office-goer waiting to board a bus in Kasba area of south Kolkata for over an hour.

Private vehicles came out in large numbers as also taxis and app cabs causing traffic snarls in several places of the city, including business and trading hubs, which have started functioning normally after an over two-month long hiatus owing to the lockdown.

The West Bengal government has allowed buses to operate with passengers not more than its seating capacity from June 1, but most private operators chose not to ply their vehicles claiming that it would lead to losses.

A section of private bus operators have started services with lesser number of buses on some routes in the city and suburbs on an experimental basis.

With suburban trains and metro railway services not having resumed operations, people have to depend on buses or autorickshaws which are much less than the requirement, a man on way to office from Baruipur in South 24 Parganas district said.

'I usually take the train, but now have to depend on buses. Waiting for over an hour, but since the seats are already occupied, buses are not picking up passengers,' he said.

Autorickshaws were also fewer in number and those who brought out their vehicles were charging much higher than the normal rates since they can carry only two passengers at a time.

The West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) is running ordinary and air-conditioned bus services in at least 40 routes in the city, an official said.

While the All Bengal Bus Minibus Samannoy Samity has resumed services on some routes on an experimental basis, the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates said it will not be possible to run buses on current fares as they will incur a huge loss even if they ply with passengers in every seat.

Ferry services across River Hooghly resumed services on nine routes from Monday. PTI AMR MM MM