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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

MSRTC staff strike: Passengers bear brunt; private operators’ services insufficient, fares higher

1500 employees returned to work, 36 buses ran, says MSRTC

Written by Vallabh Ozarkar | Mumbai |
Updated: November 12, 2021 10:25:01 pm
MSRTC employees are engaged in statewide protest against the State Government for their demands for almost two weeks. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Passengers who rely on Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses have continued to face hardship due to the indefinite strike of MSRTC employees since October 27 demanding the merger of the corporation into the state government.

Though private buses, vans and other operators were allowed to ferry passengers from the depots, the number of private operators was insufficient to cater to the passengers.

Private vehicles started operating from Tuesday after the state government permitted them, and school buses, small midi buses, jeeps and other small four-wheelers plied from most of the depots.

Though it was suggested that services of private vehicles should be provided at ST ticket rates, there was no monitoring system to curb overcharging, and passengers had to pay higher fares. Also, private travel operators could not provide last-mile connectivity in many areas.

Private operators managed to provide services to commuters between Mumbai-Nashik, Mumbai Aurangabad, Mumbai-Shirdi/Nashik, Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Kolhapur, Mumbai-Ratnagiri, Mumbai-Satara / Sangli routes, but charged almost double the usual fare.

Rahul Sansare, who was travelling from Nashik to Mumbai, had to pay Rs 800 for the journey, for which the ST would have charged Rs 350 for AC Shivshahi bus.

“I had gone to my hometown for Diwali and my leave ended on Wednesday. Since the strike was on, there was no ST bus from Nashik to Mumbai. I had to pay Rs 800 for the private vehicle,” Sansare said.

According to passengers, private operators are reaching the main central bus stations from metro cities. However, they do not reach interior parts and villages, as the ST buses would, even if they are paid extra fare. Those travelling to interior parts have to use jeeps, Maxicabs and autos.

Ankush Gaikwad from Ahmednagar said, “I reached the central point in the city but there was no ST bus to reach my village. Jeeps were not only charging extra but also carrying extra passengers.”

The MSRTC is making efforts to restore bus services. On Friday it managed to run 36 buses and claimed that around 1500 employees returned to work

Shekhar Channe, Vice-President and Managing Director of MSRTC, said that responding to the appeal by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Transport Minister and President of ST Corporation Adv. Anil Parab, ST employees have started returning to work. He also said that the strike had caused loss of about Rs 125 crore to the ST Corporation.

“We want to start bus services so that passengers are not inconvenienced by the strike. The police are being assisted to ensure that employees who want to come to work are not hindered. Due to the presence of workers, 36 buses were dispatched today. About 800-900 passengers have travelled. Private vehicles are also being released from the depot,” Channe said, adding that many employees are keen to resume work.

He appealed to staffers to end the strike and resume work.

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