We try making sure mini buses follow timings, but acknowledge passengers suffer: RTO
The already inadequate public transport mostly vanishes from the roads of Srinagar as soon as it is dark, leaving commuters, particularly women, anxious, frustrated and vulnerable to overcharging alternatives.
As soon as sun down, passengers in the capital city are seen scurrying for mini buses and shared cabs, like Sumo taxis, as these mostly vanish from the roads like daylight, leaving people at the mercy of private vehicles and usually overcharging auto rickshaws.
The problem gets worse during winter months as the days shorten.
Hoards of people, men and women race to catch a mini bus or a shared cab as evening descends, to ensure they get home before falling victim to exploitative alternatives.
Commuters say public transport buses or even shared cabs follow no schedule and start vanishing from their allotted routes as soon as it gets dark.
“We do make sure to make mini buses follow proper timetable but Sumos don’t come in the timing ambit, but I acknowledge that passengers do suffer,” said Kashmir’s regional transport officer.
“We will have a meet with all the sections of transporters and make sure that passengers don’t have to suffer.”
The RTO said he has had several meetings with the Div Com Kashmir and DC Srinagar and discussed these issues faced by the public.
“We will make sure that public will not have to suffer in this regard,” he said.
Passengers however maintain that neither mini buses nor cabs follow any timings.
“From 5pm onwards we are rushing towards taxi stands to board vehicles, there are females like us who can’t even ask for a lift in late hours, it is very frustrating,” said Fozia ,who works in a private company at Lalchowk.
“If authorities will take this issue seriously and make transporters strictly follow timings, we won’t have to suffer,” Fozia said.
“But we don’t feel they take these issues seriously.”
Female passengers are also aghast with just three ladies special buses operating in city which too are not available during evening hours, they say.
Transporters acknowledge the issues but blame it all on the prevailing security situation in Kashmir.
“Many drivers who come from far off areas outside Srinagar have to leave early so that they reach home to their families early and safely,” said Muhammad Sultan, general manager, Western Bus Service Kashmir.
“But we try our best to follow proper timings.”