Mumbai: Allow us to board local trains, demand office-goers, stage 2 protests in 3 days | Mumbai News

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MUMBAI: Desperate office-goers carried out a protest at Virar on Monday to demand entry into local trains even as Metro services have resumed in other parts of the country. This is the second protest in three days. Late on Saturday, around 200 people headed back to their homes in Vasai-Virar had landed up at Borivli station when state transport (ST) buses failed to arrive on time due to traffic snarls.
Local trains currently ply only essential workers and government employees. Bus trips are woefully inadequate, cost more and increase travel time considerably, commuters said.
Around 11am on Monday, office-goers, especially those employed in private firms, gathered near Virar railway station on learning that Metro services had resumed in other cities. While they did not enter railway premises, they demanded full resumption of local services. The protest lasted half an hour and all protesters turned back to the bus depot after cops pacified the crowd. On July 22, thousands of commuters had got onto railway tracks at Nalasopara and vandalized railway property, demanding full resumption of services and protesting insufficient ST bus trips.
“As office capacity has increased by 30%, bus queues have got longer. It takes me over four hours to reach my office in Andheri by bus. Nearly every day, my superior threatens to fire me for coming late,” said a Virar resident and one of the protesters. The increase in travel time is due to congestion on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway and near Dahisar check naka where Metro construction is on. “What is the logic behind shutting train services when buses are packed and social distancing cannot be maintained? I am risking it all to keep my job,” said Virar’s Ashok Rai.
On Saturday night, about 200 people waiting at Sukurwadi bus depot in Borivli East to travel home got edgy when ST buses did not arrive on time. Half of them marched to Borivli station at 10.15pm and demanded they be let in. Four female railway cops stopped them from entering. Later, additional reinforcements were called in to escort essential workers to platforms and keep bus passengers out. ST buses arrived around 11pm.
“We are operating 354 trips to different locations between Virar and south Mumbai every day. Trips have been increased following a surge in passenger volumes. But the problem is fewer bus drivers and conductors. They are fearful of coronavirus and only about 35% of them are reporting to work,” said Ashish Chaudhari, transport officer of Palghar division, ST.
Currently, 350 locals run on WR against 1,367 with 35 lakh passengers daily pre-Covid. In a memorandum to the governor, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh said several emergency workers were still not allowed on locals.



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