Yesterday, as BEST buses went off the road suddenly, thanks to a flash strike, thousands of commuters were left stranded on their work commute.

One could see people standing with bewildered expressions at bus stops, till a few passers-by informed them that buses were not plying. It was mayhem to reach train stations as commuters were hard pressed to find rickshaws and cabs.

Taking advantage of the situation, taxis and autos started making it harder for commuters. There were several autos and cabs which simply refused to ply for a certain distance or to a particular venue. As it is, taxis and autos often hold the commuters to ransom. Extensive campaigns by the press have resulted in action against cabbies who refuse to ply.

However, we have seen once the heat is off them, many of them are back to their old ways. It is the same with autos. Periodically, commuters do resort to complaint numbers and hotlines against errant cabbies and autos but this is sporadic as people as a rule, do not know where to complain, and think it would be less trouble if they just looked for another cab or auto, instead of pursuing the matter.

While there were taxis and autos that ran on correct fare, there were also several instances where people had to cough up much more than usual, since they refused to run by meter. Some of them were quoting ridiculous amounts. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common scenario, when we see buses or trains go off the road.

Of all days, there should have been a more vigilant police presence on our roads yesterday, so that commuters could get easy access to police, once an auto or cab driver refused to ply by meter. The authorities should have anticipated that such problems would inevitably arise.

One needs greater alertness and most importantly, accessibility on days like this. No one service can think they can take advantage of hapless people, flout rules with impunity, work on the ‘might is right dictum,’ and get away with it.