Nine out of ten Blueline buses — the lifeline of Delhi’s public transport system — stayed off the roads on Wednesday in what appeared to be an undeclared strike against the government crackdown on rash driving and other violations by the private-run fleet.
And caught in the tussle, as always, were thousands of regular commuters. Office-goers, schoolchildren and elderly waited indefinitely at stops. And when they found a bus on their route, it came with people perched on bumpers and clinging to windows.
Not more than 10 per cent of the 4,500 Bluelines plied on Wednesday, said traffic police officers, who added that they came down heavily on Bluelines violating rules for the second consecutive day.
A senior traffic police officer, who did not want to be named, said the buses, Bluelines and DTCs alike, were not challaned for overloading. “The city would come to a halt if we start doing it,” he said.
The result: two teenagers and a teacher are fighting for their lives after falling off packed running buses.
Commuters who did not want to risk their lives by taking a bus ride complained that they were fleeced by autorickshaw drivers. Amrita Singh, a public relations executive, said, “I generally pay Rs 50 to Central Secretariat from RK Puram, Sector 13. The driver asked for Rs 90 and I had to pay.”
The Delhi government held a series of meetings to find a way out but could not find one. Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf said: “We hope to solve the commuters’ woes within this week.”