If you are planning to step out of your home on March 22 (Sunday), be ready for inconvenience if you are counting on using public transport because in response to PM Modi's call for a 'Janata curfew' on Thursday, autorickshaws and kaali-peeli taxis have decided to stay off the roads on Sunday.
The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has said, buses will ply according to the scheduled time table of routes on this day. “Buses will operate as per the time table. The government has stated there will be no shutdown of transport services and we will stick to that,” said Manoj Varde, the BEST spokesperson. However, another senior official said, though buses will run on schedule, 15 per cent fewer buses will hit the roads. “There will be a 15 per cent cut in the number of buses that will be pressed into service on Sunday,” he said.
According to a press release issued by the ministry of railways, Government of India, only 25 per cent of trains will be operational on Sunday. Suburban train services in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Secunderabad will be reduced to bare minimum operations, only catering to essential travel requirements.
Passenger trains originating after midnight on March 22, will not be run while all long-distance trains originating between 4am and 10pm will be cancelled.
After Rajesh Tope, the state's Health Minister, urged the citizens to stay indoors to maintain social distancing, Mumbaikars have largely complied. Operators of both kaali-peelis and autos have stated business has hit drastically over the last week.
Many outstation drivers and transport workers have left for their hometowns.
“Business has affected severely in the last one week, due to which at least 70 per cent auto drivers have left for their hometowns,” said Thambi Qurian, the autorickshaw union leader.
“If there is no public, there’s no point in hitting the roads. However, there may be a few autos, in case people need to commute in event of emergency,” Qurian added.
Echoing similar sentiments, leaders of kaali-peeli taxi unions, have said they too will pull their vehicles off the roads on Sunday.
“Mumbaikars have already started to work from home and schools and colleges too are closed. Accordingly, we will run skeletal services on the day,” said AL Quadros, the Mumbai Taximen's Union head.
“There has been an overall drop in passengers. As citizens, we need to be responsible and practise isolation and have accordingly instructed operators under our umbrella that there is no need to hit the roads on Sunday,” said Bala Shendkar, the taxi union leader.
Shivaji Sutar, CPRO, CR said, “As on date it has been decided that on Sunday, CR will run Suburban services as per Sunday time table (as per it’s scheduled ie with approximately 80% capacity).”