Unlock 1: No end to commuters’ woes in West Bengal as limited number of buses hit streets

By: |
Published: June 9, 2020 4:21 PM

Private bus operators claimed that the number of vehicles operated in Kolkata and its suburbs on Tuesday marginally increased compared to the day before, as 30 per cent of the fleet hit roads.

Unlock 1, private buses in west bengal, commuters woes in west bengal, Kolkata, COVID-19 pandemic,  public transport in west bengalState transport undertaking buses were seen plying on the streets in the morning, but with hundreds of commuters waiting, these were not enough to clear the rush. (Representational image: PTI)

Commuters in the city and other parts of West Bengal faced a harrowing time reaching workplaces on the second consecutive day of “Unlock 1” on Tuesday with public transport yet to pick up pace in the state, even as most offices and business establishments resumed normal operations.

Private bus operators claimed that the number of vehicles operated in Kolkata and its suburbs on Tuesday marginally increased compared to the day before, as 30 per cent of the fleet hit roads.

Other modes of public transport such as metro rail and local trains are yet to recommence operations. Shopping malls and restaurants, among other establishments, reopened in Bengal on Monday after a gap of over two months with the state government allowing further relaxations as part of “Unlock-1”, the first phase of a calibrated exit from the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown. Bus operators’ associations said that drivers and helpers experienced hiccups in some pockets, where a large number of people were waiting to board buses.

“In some areas, buses ran with a handful of passengers, while in others, people stood in hordes to board the vehicles. We are chalking out a strategy to maintain frequency as per demand,” general secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, Tapan Banerjee, said.

Long queues were witnessed at various places in south and north Kolkata, including Jadavpur, Garia, Hazra, Exide Crossing, Shyambazar and Dunlop, as commuters complained that they had been waiting for at least an hour on an average to get buses to their destination. Rahul Chatterjee, the general secretary of the All Bengal Bus Minibus Samannoy Samity, however, said the rush of passengers was somewhat less than what it was on Monday.

Buses operators have been told not to carry passengers in excess of their seating capacity by the state government, but the rule was openly flouted in several parts of the city and other districts of West Bengal, as people, tired of waiting in queues, got on to vehicles by force.

State transport undertaking buses were seen plying on the streets in the morning, but with hundreds of commuters waiting, these were not enough to clear the rush. Taxis, app-based cabs and auto-rickshaws were also available across the city on the second day of “Unlock 1”.

Many people rode motorcycles and bicycles to work to avoid crowds. As one of them put it, “It is safer to cycle to work than take the risk of travelling in a crowded bus in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Footfall at shopping malls were low in the morning, but store owners said the turnout was expected to increase later in the day. All major shopping complexes in the city, including South City, City Centre I and II, Acropolis, threw open their doors on Monday, barring the Forum Mall, which said it would do so next week.

Visitors are allowed at the malls between 11 am and 8 pm. Children below 10 years of age and senior citizens above 65 years, however, have been barred from entering the malls for now, as they are considered vulnerable to the coronavirus disease.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Kerala gold smuggling case: Congress to move no-confidence motion against Pinarayi Vijayan govt, alleges Speaker’s involvement
2Congress attempts fresh outreach to Sachin Pilot, but terms and conditions apply
3Down but not out: Can Sachin Pilot still turn the tables on Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan?