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Plan your commute well, auto drivers are taking advantage of BEST strike to fleece Mumbaiites

Mumbai commuters said the demand for app-based taxis such as Ola and Uber had gone up and it was difficult to book a cab

mumbai Updated: Aug 07, 2017 13:25 IST
Mumbai commute,BEST strike,auto drivers
Queues outside Andheri station are massive as office-goers wait for autorickshaws on Monday.(Satyabrata Tripathi/HT)

Heading to work? Plan your commute carefully. 

With nearly 3,700 Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport(BEST) buses going off the road today owing to a strike, commuters said they were hassled on Monday.

As BEST buses ferry about 30 lakh people daily, those commuters were forced to hail autorickshaws or taxis. Many were spotted standing in queues for share autorickshaws and taxis outside railway stations. Commuters complained that the drivers were taking advantage of the situation by overcharging them.

Unions of BEST employees called for an indefinite strike from Monday, demanding that the Mumbai civic body — BEST’s parent organisation — bail the transport body out of its current financial crisis, take responsibility for the salaries of its staff and not pressure the buses to adopt cost-cutting measures that would hit their employees.

BEST buses remain parked at the Dharavi depot owing to the strike. (Pratik Chorge/HT)

Though the unions and civic officials met several times, the strike could not be averted. BEST Kamgar Sanyukta Kriti Samiti, a joint action committee of major unions, including the BEST Kamgar Saghatana — affiliated to the Shiv Sena — and BEST Parivahan Kamgar Sangh — affiliated to BJP — were in favour of it.

Commuters said the demand for app-based taxis such as Ola and Uber had gone up and it was difficult to book a cab. To make matters worse, fares surged and commuters were told that the waiting period was 10 to 15 minutes. As large crowds were travelling to celebrate raksha bandhan, the traffic congestion only added to commuters’ woes.

The state has allowed private buses and vehicles to conduct ferry commuters, but those are proving insufficient as BEST buses are second-largest mode of public transport, following the suburban railways.

The wait for an autorickshaw seems never-ending for these Kurla commuters. (Pratik Chorge/HT)

The government said it would permit more state transport buses to ply, but failed to issue a directive to this effect.

Commuters took to social media to vent their frustration.

BEST union leaders will meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday afternoon, to present him with a list of demands. The union will also decide upon what to do if their demands go unheard.

First Published: Aug 07, 2017 10:19 IST