Thousands of domestic and daily-wage workers returning to their jobs are unable to use BMTC services because of a new pass-only system that has made short-distance bus travel expensive.
BMTC resumed proper services on Tuesday. It’s daily, weekly and monthly passes are priced at Rs 70, Rs 300 and Rs 1,050, respectively. No other passes or tickets can be used for now.
Daily-wage workers and other commuters from economically weaker sections say they cannot afford Rs 70 fare for short journeys, especially after nearly two months of no employment and income. They are forced to walk or choose illegal and unsafe transport modes. There were instances on Tuesday and Wednesday when passengers had to get off buses after conductors said only passes would be accepted.
“There was no work for two months because of the lockdown. How can we pay Rs 70 bus fare for short trips? The government is punishing us instead of helping us. Is it our fault that we are poor and don’t have a private vehicle?” said Vasantha GV, a domestic worker in Girinagar. Sharadamma, who was waiting at Majestic, said she didn’t have money to travel on a bus. “The conductor said I would have to buy a daily pass. I need three: one for myself and two for daughters. That’s Rs 210. We can’t spend that much on commuting,” she said.
Tamilselvi G, who was also standing at Majestic, said earlier, she used to pay Rs 25 to travel from Majestic to Marathahalli. BMTC officials said the pass system was a temporary measure.
Geeta Menon, secretary, Domestic Workers Rights Union, criticised the system: “It’s ridiculous to charge a flat fare from domestic workers. Most of them take short trips and maximum fare used to be Rs 20. Some paid only Rs 7 earlier,” Menon said.