It is a temporary phenomenon, say bus operators
Omni buses operate with full capacity during the day as night buses stood cancelled due to the night curfew in the state. Bus operators, however, say that their business was taking a hit and demanded compensation from the government.
At least five buses operated by different travel agencies ran at full capacity to both Chennai and Bengaluru on Wednesday morning, hours after the night curfew was lifted. ‘The crowd is temporary. They are travelling to Chennai for work. After the first few days, we will run empty buses,’ a bus operator said.
Some passengers were rushing to various places along the Chennai route such as Villupuram, as many had been given work-from-home options and were returning home. ‘We were ready to travel last night but due to the night curfew, we had to wait for a bus in the morning,’ said M. Sivaprakash, a techie in the city.
The bus services at the Omni bus stand stop by afternoon, as the buses must reach their destination before 10 pm. ‘Our last bus to Chennai is at 2 p.m. while buses to Bengaluru stop by noon,’ a bus operator said.
The passengers and bus operators agreed that travelling during the day was inconvenient. ‘We are forced to travel through the day wasting an entire day on a bus. When travelling during night, one reaches the destination in the morning and is ready for the work the next day,’ he said.
The summer heat making several stops for food and lunch and having to halt at the destination for nearly 12 hours inconveniences the bus operators, they said.
R. Balakrishnan, president, Tiruchi Omni Bus Operators Association, said that their business has taken a severe beating over the last year. ‘Only around December till February did we have some travellers. Since March, it has come down once again,’ he said.
Representatives of various omni bus operators associations across the state had met the Transport Commissioner on Tuesday seeking their intervention. The representatives sought waivers in road tax, loans taken against the buses. ‘We have told them that by May 1 if the night curfew persists, we will stop our services entirely,’ he said.
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