Home Government and Public Policy Private buses invite ire of city commuters yet again

Private buses invite ire of city commuters yet again

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Private buses invite ire of city commuters yet again

Private buses invite ire of city commuters yet again

Rash driving by private buses has become a perpetual menace in Kochi despite High Court directives against it.

Rash driving by private buses has become a perpetual menace in Kochi despite High Court directives against it.
| Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

Private bus operators in Kochi are incurring the ire of commuters yet again, following Saturday’s incident in which a bus plying on the Aluva-Mattancherry route took off before two girl children alighted from it at Palarivattom despite their mother pleading with the crew to let them alight.

Their panic-stricken mother, Shiby Gopakumar, pleaded with the bus crew and even hit the body of the bus to prevail on them that her kids aged nine and six had not got down from the bus that had begun moving by then. She pursued the bus named ‘Sajimon’ in an auto, while a co-passenger felt pity for the children who began to cry, and got down with them at the next stop and handed them over to their mother. The bus continued its journey.

Ms Gopakumar went directly to Palarivattom police station and filed a complaint. Her husband Gopakumar T B spoke on Monday of how the two kids were down with fever, unable to get over the traumatic experience on board the bus. “They boarded the bus from Cochin Shipyard stop where they went to attend an arts contest. Even en route, the bus crew were reportedly rude, following which a passenger had to warn them. At Palarivattom, my wife who was carrying the costumes alighted first and was waiting for our kids to get down. She told the door checker, who was in a hurry to give the double bell, that our two small children were yet to get down. Still he gave the bell and the bus took off, following which she hit the bus body to prevail on the driver to stop. He did not pay heed either.”

On seeing that none of the passengers reacted to the situation, she pursued the bus in an auto. Luckily, a woman passenger alighted with the kids at the next stop. “Although we have witnessed rude behaviour and rash driving by busmen, Saturday’s incident was unexpected. I was under the impression that they would treat at least kids with due care. Later in the day, my wife and children identified the cleaner and other bus crew at the police station,” he added.

Another regular commuter in the city’s buses, Francis K. spoke of how he often times warned crew of buses that operated from the city to Aluva and Kakkanad, against reckless driving. There are many such buses that regularly meet with accidents. Sadly, police and MVD personnel are not taking preventive and proactive steps to ensure safety of bus passengers and other road users, he added.

A senior official of the City Traffic Police said that they have stepped up rule-enforcement measures against buses in the wake of complaints and accidents involving them. “Despite this, many buses are rashly driven, with crew members citing that the three-minute running time per km is inadequate. There are others who behave and use polyphonic horns, in a bid to intimidate passengers and other motorists,” he said.

“We hope that the classes in safe driving and soft skills that are given to errant drivers at the behest of MVD bring about a change for the better,” said K B Suneer, district secretary of Private Bus Operators’ Association (PBOA). “This is because it is bus owners who end up paying the fine and face other penal measures, in the wake of untoward incidents. There is also need to revise the running time, since innumerable signal junctions that slow down vehicles have come up in the city during the past two decades. This is apart from hassles posed by slow-moving vehicles. It would be good if buses are given preference to proceed first at junctions,” he said.

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