Games leave many bus owners, staff fuming

September 28th, 2010 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS) Thousands of drivers, conductors and others rendered workless are fuming over a government fiat to keep hundreds of private buses off Delhi’s roads until the end of the Commonwealth Games - a decision aimed at easing traffic movement.
Many of the staff expressed disgust that the authorities had callously ignored their economic plight while deciding to axe or curtail the services of 1,600 buses till Oct 16.

“So many drivers and conductors are now idle. We have no work. And the money is running out,” T.R. Khera, who heads one of the many associations of bus operators, told IANS.

He said although the State Transport Authority had provided temporary driving permits for alternative routes, a high number of buses on the same route made little business sense.

“The government has stopped the operations of Blueline buses on 68 routes and curtailed 71 bus routes, affecting 139 routes, 1,600 buses, workers and thousands of passengers,” Blueline bus operators’ spokesman Shyamlal Gola said.

He added with visible contempt: “All in the name of conducting Commonwealth Games with pride and propriety!”

The decision took effect Monday, removing private buses — known for speeding and blamed for a large number of fatal accidents — mainly from south and central Delhi that account for most of the Commonwealth Games venues.

While it has helped unclog some roads, not everyone is happy.

Buses whose routes have been curtailed face challenges of disturbed timetables and irregular passenger volumes.

Conductor Rajesh Kumar explains what has happened to route 753 — which normally plies from Uttam Nagar to Kashmere Gate. Its truncated route now halts at Jhandewalan.

In the process, harried commuters are overcrowding Delhi Transport Corp buses — or Delhi Metro.

Kumar is in a fix. Should he stay unemployed for over a fortnight or run the bus and suffer a loss every day?

“The government has held us to ransom. They decide what is good or bad for us. Are officials oblivious to what is happening here?” he asked.

Said Shailendra Sharma, a bus passenger: “I was late for work today. Who is to be blamed?”

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