Bangalore, January 7, 2014: Nabarun Datta, a student from Guwahati, was among those who bore the brunt of the strike by autorickshaw drivers on Monday. Mr. Datta arrived by train and disembarked at Bangalore City Railway Station. He wanted to go to Shankar Math Road. He walked up to the main road outside the station with his luggage and waited for a while, hoping to catch an autorickshaw. He was surprised that not a single autorickshaw was plying on the roads.
“I wasn’t aware of the strike,” he told this reporter. Though taxis were plying, Mr Datta found the fare expensive. “Taxi drivers are asking Rs. 500 to drop me at my destination. But I may have no other choice as I don’t even know which local bus will take me to my destination” he said.
While passengers had a lot to complain about, taxi drivers at the railway station made the most of the strike. Demand for their services rose significantly. One of the taxi booking booths, which usually records 80 bookings a day on an average, had received about 200 bookings by 4 p.m.
With the pre-paid auto counter wearing a deserted look, several passengers were seen walking with luggage to the city bus-stand. Some taxis were ferrying people between the bus stop and the railway station.
The inconvenience was not restricted to passengers alighting from trains. Passengers who were to board trains and buses leaving the city also faced hardships. For instance, Mr. Mehboob and his wife had arrived by bus from the city’s outskirts to catch a train to Gulbarga. The senior citizens reside in Muragamalla village in Chintamani taluk of Chikkaballapur district. “We struggled to find an auto. Later, we got a bus to K R Market from where we boarded another bus to reach the station. The bus journey was not uncomfortable, but my wife preferred an auto as she cannot climb the stairs of a bus easily,” Mr. Mehboob said. He described the experience as “confusing”.
While the elderly couple somehow made it to the railway station on time, some others were not so lucky. Ganga A and Lalitha, both nurses in a clinic in Banaswadi, missed their bus to Gadag at 1 pm as they were unable to reach the Kempegowda bus station on time. “We left from Horamavu around 9 am, but could not get an auto. We had to walk quite a distance on the ring road before boarding a bus. But, by the time we reached Majestic, it was already 2 pm. We are waiting for the next bus, which will depart at 5 pm. It is not that transport is unavailable. But it took much longer than usual for us to reach our destination due to the unavailability of autos,” Ganga said.
Less congestion on roads
Meanwhile, other motorists had a smoother ride in the absence of autorickshaws. Commuters said they reached their destinations faster.
The strike did not appear to have made much of an impact on a few commuters who prefer public transport, like buses or the metro. Roopa, a teacher of Kadalipura High School, said that she did not experience any problem as bus services were available in plenty and buses were not overcrowded either.
Police said that the protest at Town Hall went off peacefully. The effect of the strike was greater on tourists rather than local residents, a police officer of S J Park police station said.