Private bus operators decide to withdraw indefinite strike from Nov. 21

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Private bus operators decide to withdraw indefinite strike from Nov. 21

Private bus operators in the State have decided to withdraw their indefinite strike called on November 21 following a meeting convened here on November 14 by Transport Minister Antony Raju with the office-bearers of the bus operator associations.

The department has agreed to look into their three main demands. Responding to the demand to increase students’ concession to 50% of the ordinary fare and an increase in minimum fare for students to ₹5, Mr. Raju said a decision would be taken based on the report of the Raghuraman Commission, which is expected by December 31. The age limit to avail concessional travel would be limited to 27 years.

The department would also look into the demand of the operators to restore bus services that operated beyond 140 km and also to permit the resumption of limited stop services, he added. Bus operators pointed out how 150 newly purchased buses, each costing up to ₹40 lakh, had not operating trips since May due to curbs on trips beyond 140 km.

“The Cabinet will have to take a final call on this. Likewise, the government will consider the demand to restore the around 2,000 limited-stop bus services. However, there will be no further extension of the November 1 deadline to install seatbelts for drivers and CCTVs facing the front and rear exterior and the interior of each bus. This is because the Central rule is mandatory. The government will provide a subsidy of up to ₹5,000 per bus towards the cost of CCTVs,” Mr. Raju told mediapersons.

The joint panel of bus operators had, citing financial crunch, demanded time till April 2024 to adhere to the Transport department’s November 1 deadline to install the equipment when buses would be produced for the annual fitness test.

Transport Commissioner S. Srijith and office-bearers of the bus operator associations, representing approximately 10,000 private buses, participated in the meeting.

Expressing satisfaction over the department agreeing to consider their demands, bus operators‘ representatives said they were sceptical of the decision on students’ concession that would be taken after obtaining the panel report.

“We have decided to withdraw the indefinite strike call from November 21. However, the government does not seem keen to sustain the bus transport sector . Students travelling on buses for as low as ₹1 is an archaic norm,” they said.

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