The lockdown that eased from June 7 had just revived the transportation sector. However, the rainfall received on June 9, left different modes like the BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, taxis, auto rickshaws and aggregator cabs crawling as a result of water logged roads and traffic.
BEST operated 3,349 buses throughout the day. 50 per cent of its buses crawled and struggled to return to their respective depots owing to the water logged roads. The BEST undertaking saw 78 bus routes being diverted because of this and at least 50 buses suffered technical glitches while plying.
“There was a video of rain water dripping inside a wet lease bus and the driver holding an umbrella while driving. This is the condition of buses that are mere two years into Mumbai rains. It is possible that these wet lease buses are not undergoing docking procedure, which includes tyres, bus body, roof, electric and engine check on a daily basis,” claimed BEST Committee Member Sunil Ganacharya.
Sources said that wet lease buses added to the problems because of their sheer smaller size as compared to regular BEST buses. Passengers complained that these smaller tempo traveller buses struggled to move freely on roads that were less water logged. The breakdown of buses took place at 14 different places due to water logging.
Ravi Raja, BMC opposition leader and BEST committee member, said, “The wet lease buses are smaller in size and not meant to ply on waterlogged roads. At least 50 per cent of the fleet that left on Wednesday did not return to their depots due to water logged roads. These also included the wet lease buses.”
The aggregator cabs of Uber and Ola too didn’t serve their purpose well. On social media, there were complaints that these aggregator cabs had hiked their pricing and there were barely any aggregator cabs available on the road due to the rains. “The drivers suffered a lot due to the rains. Plus, the aggregator companies were barely giving rates per kilometre to them even though there was a surge in rates. Many aggregator cabs also suffered breakdown in rains,” said Prashant Sawardekar, president of the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport (IFAT).
Meanwhile, Uber and Ola preferred not to reply to the questions raised about the problems faced by passengers and drivers because of rains and surge pricing.
The auto rickshaws and black and yellow taxis too were seen less on the road. “There are barely 90,000 to 95000 auto rickshaws that are currently plying on road. Of these too, more than 80 per cent of them remained off road because of the rains and water logging,” said auto rickshaw union leader Thampi Kurien.
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