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BEST strike: Commuters opt for alternative transport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the 30 lakh passengers ferrying in BEST buses were left in a lurch due to the strike; other modes of transport came to the rescue. To begin with, suburban local trains played an important role as many shifted to it. It was also a field day for auto rickshaw and taxi drivers who milked people in every way possible. Even fleet cabs like TabCab and Meru were seen on the road, whose presence for several months has been a lull.Every day, around 74 lakh people travel by the suburban system, but as it was Raksha Bandhan, quite a number of offices had declared a public holiday or people opted for leave. This compensated for those using the BEST buses for travel. Sources in the railways said all local train services were operational and they did not run the holiday schedule where 30 per cent fewer services ply.”We expect an additional 10 per cent rise in daily commuters inside local trains,” said a CR official on the condition of anonymity. Trains and platforms were crowded in the morning and evening peak hours but then gradually eased. The Western Railway ran four extra services between Churchgate and Virar stations between 10am-2pm.Anticipating the crowd, rail authorities also opened up a few more ticket windows, at Kandivli, Goregaon, Bhayander, apart from regular counters being operated in double shifts and without lunch breaks. “We deputed commercial inspectors at the railway stations to monitor the rush at ticket windows,” said Gajanan Mahatpurkar, PRO, Western Railway.The Central Railway too opened additional ticket windows at Kalyan, Dombivali, Thane, Ghatkopar, Dadar, Kurla and Bhandup stations. “These catered to the extra rush of daily ticket seekers likely to occur due to BEST bus strike,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway.People normally use buses to come not only as feeder routes to reach railway stations, but also as long distance routes along the highways on eastern and western suburbs, LBS Road, SV Road and various link roads. On August 7, due to the strike, few of the taxi and auto rickshaw drivers took advantage of the situation as they levied seat-wise charges instead of by the meter.”We had kept our officers from different RTOs outside railway stations and even at the BMC disaster control room to monitor the situation. We shall take action against those drivers who are overcharged,” said Praveen Gedam, Transport Commissioner.Even the fleet cabs TabCabs and Meru were seen plying. Over the past few months, the number of these fleet cabs on road have dropped. However, on Monday, the fleet cab companies claimed the demand spiked by 15-20 per cent. Meanwhile, the recurring problem of Uber and Ola, of surge pricing continued even on the day of the strike.

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