Maha bandh: Stone pelting on BEST buses affects services; Mumbai suburban trains run normally

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Mumbai, Oct 11 (PTI): Bus services of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) remained off the roads for most of the day on Monday after stones were hurled at some places here during the Maharashtra bandh called by three ruling parties against the Lakhimpur Kheri district but thankfully suburban and outstation trains operated normally without any disruption, officials said.
The BEST services resumed after the shutdown ended around 4 PM.
Railway officials said suburban and outstation trains operated normally without any disruption.
Government Railway Police (GRP) Commissioner Quaiser Khalid said protesters demonstrated at three railway stations namely Thane, Mulund and Vikhroli.
“Demonstrations have been carried out by the protesters at Thane, Mulund and Vikhroli railway stations. Officers @grpmumbai counselled them not to enter the station premises or inconvenience commuters. They have moved to city are thereafter. @DGPMaharashtra,” he tweeted.
A BEST spokesperson said they operated 1,833 buses as against around 3000 buses operated normally till 6.45 pm on Monday. A total of 11 buses, including one leased bus of a private operator, were damaged, he said.
At least 25 lakh passengers use BEST buses daily to travel in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mira Bhayandar.
An MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) official said outstation buses plied normally across the state.
“Of the 18,947 bus schedules, only 2,885 schedules, means 15.23 per cent of the total schedules, were cancelled due to the bandh,” he said, adding the highest number of schedules were cancelled in Buldhana district followed by Latur and Kolhapur.
Meanwhile, BEST union leader Shashank Rao claimed over 70 per cent of the employees of BEST reported to work, but the buses were not brought out on roads by the administration “for the reasons best known to them”.
Passengers, however, faced huge inconvenience as the BEST buses remained off the roads.        Many people couldn’t attend their offices as they are not authorised to travel on local trains.
“I wasn’t able to travel to work as BEST buses were not plying. I travel to work from Lalbaug to Chembur in the BEST bus. As I am not authorised to travel on suburban trains, I was forced to work from home,” said Santosh Palve, an executive who works in a private firm at Chembur.
Some people complained that autorickshaw and taxi drivers charged exorbitant fares taking disadvantage of the situation.
On Monday morning, many cabs and autorickshaws remained off the roads. But as the day progressed, many taxis and autorickshaws were seen plying again. Many commuters complained that it was hard to find private transport due to huge demand.
“It was difficult to get an auto rickshaw to and from railway stations this morning. First I walked to Ghatkopar station from home. I could hire an autorickshaw after a much struggle. Later I walked 2 km from the Malad station to my office in scorching heat,” said Hemant Pawar, a Ghatkopar resident.
Some commuters complained that they were fleeced by drivers of autorickshaws and taxis while some said they had to pay less fare as there was skeletal traffic on roads which made commuting faster.
Meanwhile, all the major markets like Fashion street, Natraj Market, Manish Market, Dadar market and shops in Mumbai, barring medical and essential shops, remained shut till evening.

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