Bengaluru, July 25: Thousands of buses of the Bangalore Metropolitan Road Transportation Corporation (BMTC) and three other Road Transport Corporations went off the roads on Monday as their staff went on strike demanding a hike in pay and benefits, but despite that, traffic surged on the roads as commuters brought out their own vehicles and the Transport department let 0 private maxi cabs take to the roads.
In the Majestic area, the city's central transportation hub, both the city and state bus stands wore a deserted look. "Unaware of bus strike, I landed in Majestic. I am astonished to see such calm in the city's busiest location," commented one commuter. Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda told OneIndia that the government had issued temporary carriage permits to maxi cab operators.
"There are 84,000 maxi cabs across the state. Bengaluru alone has some 30,000 maxi cabs", but temporary permits have been given only to some 15,000 to 20,000 across the state, with 2,000 permits in Bengaluru. "Yet, maxi cabs are complaining of lack of business", he said.
The state has also issued permits to transport corporations of neighbouring states, like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andra Pradesh to operate. Upon hearing the news about the strike in Karnataka, these corporations sought permission to function. "This will falicitate inter-state travellers across the state," Gowda said.
The government also issued permits to contract carriages, All India Omni Bus (AIOB) and state carriages. All put together 86,300 vehicles will be plying offering services across the state to normalise commuting, he explained.
Surge in Bengaluru traffic
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic West, said traffic in the city was above normal, saying many private vehicles have hit the road.
As usual traffic density in the city is high during the peak hours and is expected to surge again in the evening. Despite schools and colleges being closed, there was noticeably high traffic.
A two-wheeler commuter travelling from Dinnur Main Road to Wilson Garden, said: "I thought I could reach office early today, anticipating the strike effect. But it is quite the opposite."
Meanwhile, autos, maxi cabs and private buses were reportedly making a killing, charging exorbitant rates.
One autorickshaw passenger said he paid Rs 200 to go from Bhuvaneshwarinagar to Shivajinagar, a distance of less than 12 km.
Social media, too, was abuzz with news of overpricing, specially by private buses.
Gowda said commuters could complain to the transport department. "Passengers can call 0802223785 to complain", he said.