Srinagar, June 24: Passengers who are using public transport since partial ease in lockdown say that the continuance of double passenger fare is becoming another nuisance for them.
Greater Kashmir received many calls from public transport users saying that they see cab operators twisting rules as per their convenience while they have to pay an extra fare. They said there is no such order to take the double fare.
Abdul Majeed, a vendor said that he travels daily on cabs from Srinagar outskirts to Lal chowk. “I hardly earn under Rs 300 per day and I have to spend more than half on cab fare. This while people are travelling jam-packed in their own vehicles, enjoying outings and travelling without following any SOPs or social distancing. Maximum users of public transport are those who can’t afford their own vehicles. These include daily wagers like us who are suffering from this extra burden amid economic crunch,” Majeed said.
The passengers also allege that the cab operators in Srinagar and elsewhere are twisting rules and taking double fare without any government order. They say in some cabs they find half passenger capacity while in others there is no such concept.
“The irony is that if the cab driver doesn’t find enough passengers, he says that he is running in half capacity and asks for double fare and if he finds enough passengers, no rule is followed. I have travelled across various districts from past few weeks, sometimes rule is followed and sometimes it isn’t. It doesn’t serve any purpose of social distancing rather it's frustrating.” said Adil Ahmed, a commuter at Hazratbal.
Transporters say that the ‘half baked’ rules without a well thought out plan have resulted in huge losses to their business.
Aijaz Ahmed Pathan, President Hazratbal Taxi stand said that amid skyrocketing fuel prices, they are running in losses for three years now.
“We were ordered to operate with only half the capacity of passengers. Although there is no order to take a double fare, passengers give double fare on their own if they wish to, we don’t demand. There are many routes in Srinagar where no half-capacity seating rule is followed. It is a huge mess which has made our life miserable. We want to run in full capacity so that there won’t be this issue on daily basis and both passengers and cab operators won’t have to suffer. We even received complaints that some cab operators who are not associated with any taxi stand are asking for the double fare while running in full capacity. Such people should be taken to task,” Pathan said.
Shabir Ahmed, President Kashmir transport welfare association said that their buses are not running in full capacity and it is incurring losses on them.
“This business has been running in losses for years now. Our bus operators are not asking for double fare although we are running at half capacity. It was better if we were asked to run in full capacity while wearing masks strictly,” Shabir said
Greater Kashmir learnt that after the transfer of the previous RTO, the new RTO is yet to take charge. ARTO Srinagar couldn’t be reached after multiple attempts by this reporter.