New Delhi : The week could not have started off worse for the capital's commuters who hung perilously out of buses, got fleeced by auto-rickshaws or just walked with over 80 percent of Blueline buses staying off the roads Monday after failing to meet minimum safety standards.
For the third consecutive day, commuters suffered as thousands of 'killer' Blueline buses went missing after authorities said that most did not meet the conditions to ply as commuter vehicles.
"It's a bad beginning of a new week. There is hardly any bus and you cannot reach office in time," said Shreya Tarafdar, a woman trying to get to office.
"I waited for almost one hour to catch a bus from Dhaula Kuan to Noida (in Uttar Pradesh). The government should arrange for more buses," she added desparingly.
The 4,200 strong Blueline fleet has been driven off the roads for its unceasing recklessness that has led to 64 people being killed and over 150 injured this year. In the current month, Blueline buses have killed nine people.
Though authorities said most Blueline buses did not meet standards, few officials were willing to explain how these buses had operated all these years.
Exasperated transport department officials said they were going through a long queue of Bluelines with a toothcomb, checking for everything — from the mandatory speed governors to the documents needed to operate the buses and to be carried by drivers.
On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had directed Blueline operators to stay off roads and undergo a special test before ferrying commuters.
On Sunday, nearly 1,400 buses were tested and 50 percent were declared unfit.
"It's becoming difficult to survive in the capital city. If the Bluelines operate, you risk your life. But the fact is that their absence really makes a huge difference to the public transport system," said Raghuvansh Satpathy, a young business executive.
Taking advantage of the situation, auto-rickshaws fleeced commuters.
"Autos are really becoming unaffordable. They are not ready to run on meter fare and are charging at least double the price. I pay only Rs.5 to commute between India Gate and R.K. Puram on bus. Now I am forced to take autos and they charge at least Rs.50," complained Amrita Kakkar, a professional.