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Posted at: Jan 12, 2019, 5:38 PM; last updated: Jan 12, 2019, 5:38 PM (IST)

School buses ferry commuters as bus strike enters fifth day

School buses ferry commuters as bus strike enters fifth day
A view of Wadala Depot Bus after over 33,000 employees of Mumbais civic transport undertaking BEST on the third day of indefinite strike over their demands, including higher wages in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI photo

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service
Mumbai, January 12

The Maharashtra government asked private bus operators including owners of school buses to ply their vehicles as the strike by Mumbai's civic-owned BEST undertaking entered the fifth day on Saturday.

Officials said nearly 2,000 school buses and vehicles owned by private transporters were deployed from this morning. However these services proved inadequate as the private vehicles skipped the interiors of the city and stuck to the main arterial roads. Worse still, the private
vehicles charged a minimum fare of Rs 20 per passenger even for short distances as against the minimum fare of Rs 8 by the municipal-owned bus service.

Anil Garg, president of the Bus Malak Sanghathan or Bus Owners' Association, said most of the private buses were already under contract and were ferrying commuters outside their duty hours. "The government has allowed us to pick up passengers from bus stops during the strike," Garg said.

More than 3200 buses belonging to the BEST undertaking are off the roads as the employees are on strike demanding higher salaries and merger of the BEST budget with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

According to civic officials as many as 18 lakh people use bus services every day.

On Friday, the Bombay High Court had asked the strike BEST Workers' Union to meet government officials and begin talks. However the negotiations floundered as several members of the government's negotiating team could not make it for the meeting on Friday.

Further meetings between officials and the union leaders were in progress on Saturday, officials said.

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