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BEST Strike: 3.7K buses off roads for 3 days, 27 lakh commuters suffering, but no uproar yet

While a few regular commuters were inconvenienced, trains, cabs and autos have picked up most of the slack

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BEST Strike: 3.7K buses off roads for 3 days, 27 lakh commuters suffering, but no uproar yet
Commuters using private vehicles to reach their destination from Bandra Railway station east during on third day of the strike
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The quintessential red buses were once a lifeline for the city. A BEST bus strike would cripple the city's transport system affecting thousands of lives. While there was no uproar as the strike entered the third day, it should not be assumed that the once-indispensable red buses were not missed much.

While a few regular commuters were inconvenienced, trains, cabs, and other modes of transport have picked up most of the slack.

Students were hardest hit by the strike. "My college is in Nerul. I have to take a bus to college early morning. Due to the strike, my father has been dropping me to the station every morning at 5.30 am," said Miksha S, an MBBS student residing in Kandivali station.

Like Shetty, the strike has affected 27 lakhs lives who still use the mode of transport. "It would be wrong to say since there was no brouhaha over the strike, BEST buses are not missed. Around 27 lakh people do get affected, including mine. Not everyone has moved to an alternate mode of transport," said Vidyadhar Date, a transport activist and head of Amchi Mumbai Amchi BEST.

Some citizens also pointed out to the inconvenience they had to face because of the added burden the strike had created on other modes of transport. "The trains are already full to capacity and the strike had only added to the problem. There was more crowd in trains and getting a taxi was also difficult. Besides, auto and taxi guys start arm-twisting adding to commuter's woes," said a commuter who did not wish to be named.

A few commuters said that while they could manage for a few days without the BEST buses, it would certainly become a problem if the strike continues for long. "Instead of spending Rs 25, I had to shell out Rs 120," said Anita Agarwal who complained of getting cold due to travelling in auto.

Transport experts said that the authorities should come out with a solution soon. "They have invoked MESMA but as per BMC, unlike water supply and other services, this is not essential service. The BMC should solve the problem instead. This nothing but their way to privatising this," said Kedar Hombalkar, former BEST committee member.

BMC STRIKE NEXT?

  • The Municipal Mazdoor Union, which is the largest union in the BMC with over 1 lakh members, has threatened to go on strike from Saturday if demands are not met till Friday evening. “We are with BEST employees. If the administration and state government don’t intervene immediately, we will also go on strike from Saturday,” said Ashok Jadhav, working president of Municipal Mazdoor Union.
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