-Tanya Mary, I Year B.A. English
The recent strikes by transport workers’ unions left many students stranded without any transport facility. Although the news about the strike was announced on TV the day before, many people were left unaware and bewildered by this sudden change. Many students were seen crowding the bus depots, with no money to pay for alternative means. Private taxi services like Ola and Uber came to the rescue of some students, while many of them had to return home by finding their own mode of transport. It became a big hassle for the daily commuters. People had to turn towards other modes of transport like trains, private transport, etc. resulting in overcrowded vehicles, and this hassle lasted for over a week.
The solution that the government came up with was to increase the fares, and so, they were increased by around 100% in some routes i.e. a Rs.7 ticket costed Rs.14, a Rs.13 ticket costed Rs.25 etc. In other words, a person boarding the digital board 29C bus from Perambur to Stella Maris College or Adyar to Stella Maris College would have to cough up a sum of Rs.100 for a round trip in order to travel for 2 days. Public transport is meant to be cheap and affordable, even for the people in the lower sectors of the society. The lower middle class people and daily wage laborers were badly affected due to this price hike.
After many protests and campaigns by students and some political parties, the price was reduced by a mere Rs.2 in some routes. “Why do we have to suffer for the government’s fault? If public transport is so expensive, how do they expect us to move from one place to another?” laments Kasthuri, a daily wage laborer who travels daily from Kilpauk to Adyar.
“We haven’t been getting our bonuses for over a year. The MTC itself was running at a loss of crores of rupees because of the rising diesel rates and low fare. We have families who depend on us, as well. There’s no other way. The prices have been increased after 6 years. The sad thing is, after the price hike, many people have been caught travelling without tickets. What else can we do about it?” asks a bus conductor.
“Raising the price by Rs.2 or Rs.3, or even Rs.5, is okay. But why did they raise it by Rs.15? It’s unacceptable and illogical!” says a student who travels to college daily by bus.
Now, after 2 weeks, people have started accepting the price hike and the situation is returning to normal. The government has to come up with an alternative solution.