As many as 16 buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) were damaged in agitation by members of the Maratha community in various parts of the state on Thursday, senior MSRTC officials said.
Commuters travelling to or from Mumbai faced a harrowing time after more than 90 per cent of state transport buses remained off the roads. While five buses were damaged in Nashik, 11 others were damaged in Aurangabad and one in Nagpur. No state transport bus plied from any of the depots in Mumbai Central, Parel or Dadar in the morning.
Senior officials said workers refused to take the buses out fearing attacks by agitators. “Many of our buses were burnt in the last protest. As the protesters had called for a statewide bandh, we decided to avoid going on the road,” an ST driver said.
Commuters travelling between Mumbai and Pune suffered as Shivneri bus services were unavailable. Prajakta Sakhare, travelling from Chembur to Pune, said she had to pay three times the usual fare to travel to Pune. “I opted to go by a private cab, which charged me Rs 700 till Pune.”
Candidates appearing for the examination of assistant loco pilots also complained amid confusion about whether the Railways would hold the exam. Rahul Sonawane, who took the exam in Mumbai, said he will return to Latur on Friday. “I had reached Mumbai two days ahead of the exam. As suburban transport services were not affected, I did not face any trouble. However, I plan to return to Latur only on Friday, as no state transport bus is available today,” he added.
Sunil Udasi, chief spokesperson of Central Railway, said the examination was held successfully. “In Mumbai, the examination was conducted in three shifts. Around 70 per cent attendance was recorded. Not one candidate failed to report to the centre due to the strike.”
The MSRTC faced losses worth Rs 18 crore as it only plied 8,000 bus trips as against the usual 1.8 lakh trips every day.
Bus services continued in Palghar, Vidarbha and parts of Konkan.
“Due to the ongoing Maratha protests, the corporation has suffered losses worth Rs 30 crore. This will rise to Rs 50 crore if we do not operate any bus today. If the unrest dies down, we will resume services,” an ST official said.