The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) announced on Sunday that only 40 out of the 96 depots across Telangana would be functioning in light of the massive TRS rally planned for the afternoon. Moreover, only 20 buses would be plying out of each depot, affecting commuters.
The usually busy depots wore a deserted look on Sunday, as the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi had booked 7,300 of the 12,000 buses owned and operated by TSRTC. The buses have been hired for the party's Pragathi Nivedana Sabha, a political gathering meant to project party strength with state elections looming.
"All advanced bookings have been taken off the TSRTC website last night; it will be back online on Tuesday. We have refunded those who had made advanced bookings. There are only 20 buses operating out of 40 depots in the state. For inter-district services, only AC and super-deluxe buses are operational, with the pallivalu, express and deluxe buses not operating. Only one pallivalu bus has arrived so far,” said a TSRTC official on the condition of anonymity.
Another official said, "The occupational ratio for inter-district buses are high during the weekends, especially to the Karimnagar sector, so much so that we sometimes have to divert 20 to 40 buses to cater to the demand alone.”
Meanwhile, commuters across the state were left high and dry.
"I have been waiting for a bus to Jagtial district, my hometown, for over an hour now. Usually, the frequency to my district is 20 minutes. I visit home every Sunday; these kinds of delays used to happen only during some festival," said Mohammad Ifran, who is preparing for his civil service exams.
Commuters at Warangal got into a heated exchange with TSRTC officials as some who were unaware of the cancellation of bus services waited at the bus stop.
Commuters protesting at Hanmakonda bus stand of #Warangal after they found no busses. The #TRS party has booked 7500 buses (out of 10500) for today’s #PragathiNivedhanaSabha. Minister #KTR has requested people to drop idea of traveling if it’s not necessary. #Telangana pic.twitter.com/IPP2BmrHoM— Aashish (@Ashi_IndiaToday) September 2, 2018
Along the arterial Inner Ring Road (IRR) in Hyderabad, people could be seen waiting for buses for hours altogether.
Venu, a commuter who has an English class at Ramakrishna Math at Domalguda at 1 pm said he had been waiting at a bus stop next to Hyderabad Public School from 11 am. "I have been waiting for an hour now, don't have money to take a taxi or an auto; I will wait for some more time or else walk back home, " he said.
Meanwhile, 54-year-old Basavi and her daughter-in-law, both of whom were decked up for a wedding, waited for well over an hour for a bus to take them to Balapur. “Oh my god, I didn’t know there wouldn’t be any buses today. I have to get to the wedding,” she said.
Officials warned that public transport could be hit on Monday too, as those who had come to attend the rally, would leave the next day.