Several routes in Kolkata witnessed a nearly 40 per cent drop in the fleet strength of private buses and minibuses since Thursday morning following the rise in the diesel price beyond Rs 100 per litre, operators said.
Many owners said they decided to withdraw buses and minibuses from roads following the price hike.
Commuters had to wait for hours for buses on comparatively longer routes such as Barasat (North 24-Parganas) to Howrah or Falta (South 24-Parganas) to Babughat as a number of vehicles were withdrawn.
Across Kolkata, too, there were fewer buses and taxis.
At least half a dozen bus and minibus owners in Kolkata said the price rise was the last blow to the industry, which has been struggling to survive since the outbreak of Covid.
“With the diesel price touching the Rs 100-per-litre mark, bus owners have been pushed to their limits. The passenger count has diminished. Most are working from home. Besides, many people commute by two-wheelers. How can our industry survive after this?” asked Tapan Bandopadhayay of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, one of the oldest unions of private bus operators in Calcutta.
“Several owners were forced to withdraw their buses from the roads on Thursday. Over the next few days, the number will slide even further.”
Operators said around 22 buses would ply on the KB-15 route, between Anandapur off EM Bypass and Santragachi in Howrah, daily. Eight or nine buses were withdrawn from the route during the day.
In the north, about 60 buses are now operational on route 230, between Kamarhati and the Alipore zoo. Around 25 of them didn’t roll out on Thursday.
Around 16 buses on route 235, between Amtala and Salt Lake, did not operate.
“In June we had to spend Rs 3,200 for 40 litres of diesel. Now we have to pay Rs 4,000. The passenger count has gone down rapidly. Post-Lakshmi Puja, there are hardly any during non-rush hours,” said Pradip Narayan Bose of the West Bengal Bus and Minibus Owners Association.
“So if there aren't many buses on the roads, don’t blame the owners.”