Spirit of Mumbai shines through as auto strike hits suburbs
While youngsters from an NGO, Youth For Change, ferried office-goers to Kandivli station in a minibus for free, other Mumbaikars offered their own vehicles to help those stranded by the autorickshaw strike
As 75,000 auto rickshaws stayed off the roads yesterday, just two days after a taxi strike, the transport crunch could have had a crippling effect on the city, had it not been for Mumbaikars, who displayed great resourcefulness and fortitude with solutions such as carpooling, cycling and engaging buses to get to work on time.
In Kandivli, over 200 office-goers could breathe easy after a group of youngsters came up with the novel idea of roping in a bus to ferry locals to Kandivli station during office hours.
“We were simply chatting on our WhatsApp group when someone commented about the trouble he would have to face due to the strike. That’s when it struck us to hire a mini-bus that would ply residents from various areas in Kandivli to the station,” said Nikhil Vyas (26), president of Youth For Change (YFC), an NGO formed by around 150 youngsters from Mumbai suburbs.
Where there’s a wheel: Over 200 office-goers availed of the free minibus service in Kandivli. The 19-seater bus was provided by a local travel agent
A local travel agent even agreed to provide a 19-seater bus to them free of cost, but the NGO decided to bear the basic expenses such as fuel, spending Rs 700 in all. Plying from 6.30 am to noon, the bus made about 20 trips to and fro, helping at least 200 commuters in all. The bus made stops at residential areas such as Charkop, Mahavir Nagar, Shankar gali, Dahanukarwadi, Link Road and MG Road, picking up commuters and dropping them till Kandivli station free of charge. Four YFC members volunteered to accompany the residents in their travel, and a woman volunteer was roped in as well, to ensure women passengers felt comfortable using the service.
Nikhil Vyas (extreme left), the president of the NGO Youth For Change, and a few other volunteers engaged a
19-seater bus to ferry over 200 people from their homes in Kandivli to the local railway station, helping them get to work
“There is always a bit of apprehension in our minds when we are asked to get into a bus for a lift. There were some who asked if there was any other woman on the bus before getting in; that’s when I would show my face and they would gladly hop in,” said the female volunteer, Palak Shah (17), a student of Narsee Monjee College.
Despite fears that the auto strike would bring the city to a standstill, it was business as usual yesterday, with many citizens not even missing the convenience of autos much.
Kaveer Ray cycled from Bandra to his workplace in Fort and was relieved to not have to deal with fussy auto and cab drivers
“For a Mumbaikar it is always necessary to be on time. I got a message about the auto strike, but with the help of the bus service initiated by YFC, there wasn’t much difficulty in getting to work,” said Poonam Naik, an architect who travels from Kandivli to Sion every day.
Ashwin Talwalkar offered his personal vehicle for carpooling services in the morning and evening, helping several others travel in the city as well
Quite a few people opted to use the local train and BEST bus services, while others chose to carpool. “I have my own car and so on the day of the strike I decided to offer my car service from Dadar to Powai in the morning and from Goregaon to Dadar in the evening by making use of an application called Traffline Mumbai,” said Ashwin Talwalkar (32), a doctor at Bombay Hospital.
There were others who found alternative means to get to work, even cycling to work. Kaveer Ray (30), a PR consultant, cycled all the way from Bandra to his workplace in Fort but was satisfied that he didn’t have to deal with fussy auto drivers.
“It took me just an hour to reach office on my cycle. I have cycled there before as well, due to the daily tantrums thrown by auto rickshaw and taxi drivers. And this time, my need of hour, I reached my office easily, without any hassles,” he said.
The few auto drivers that were plying yesterday used the opportunity to fleece commuters with inflated fares. However, citizens seemed fed up with the frequent transport strikes and refused to give in to these demands.
“I was waiting for an auto from Ghatkopar station to Sakinaka. After a long time, when an auto driver agreed to take me there, he said he would charge me Rs 180 instead of Rs 15 for a share rickshaw. I decided not to give in this time and instead took the bus,” said Nasir Khan (24).
I have been waiting for more than 15 minutes for an auto. The auto drivers who usually charge Rs 15 are asking for Rs 180 to reach Saki Naka. I am hailing a bus now but I will surely have to wait even more for that.
I want to go to R-City mall and I have been looking for a rickshaw for the last 10 mins. The autos are charging double the regular rate. This is not only irritating but also very disappointing.
It’s raining and this strike has added to the inconvenience commuters keep facing. Not a single rickshaw is ready to halt.
I have just been discharged from Hinduja Hospital and want to go to Amrutnagar. I have been waiting for an hour and have failed to convince any auto driver to drop me and my child home.
Kurla (East), near station
I am heading to Phoenix Mall but these autowallahs are asking for R100. Normally, I pay only R10. This is sheer loot and I will surely bargain with them
I have been waiting here for an hour. I am on my way to Vidyavihar to my daughter’s school to pick her up. No auto rickshaw is ready to drop me