After the traffic police began cracking down on luxury bus owners,stopping them from entering the city,the buses have seen their occupancy drop by over 50 percent. If this continues,then private bus owners would have to shut down their business,said Prasanna Patwardhan,owner of Prasanna Travels and vice president of the Maharashtra State Luxury Bus Owners Association.
People have been reluctant to travel to the outskirts, Patwardhan admitted. We want the traffic police to allot us four parking lots,not necessarily at the heart of the city but within city limits. We already have several private lots,the police can allow us to make use of them, he said.
The association is arguing that as each private bus pays Rs four lakh in taxes each year,it falls upon the government to make sure that they have some kind of amenities. They have asked us to park our buses at places where there are absolutely no facilities for passengers like toilets or seating arrangements. Passengers are also less likely to travel to the outskirts if there are no facilities for hiring an auto rickshaw or a bus, he said.
Patwardhan conceded that few bus owners had ready infrastructure to ferry passengers using tempos to the parking lots at the outskirts. “We cannot afford such facilities for passengers under the present fare structure. Either passengers would have to pay for an auto,or we would have to increase fares to be able to ferry passengers to the parking lots,” he said. “But the police cannot suddenly say that we will not be allowed into the city,without the government providing us with alternate arrangements,” he said.
Last week,the traffic police moved against the luxury bus owners and banned them from entering the city. While activists and city dwellers have welcomed the move,the police has earned the ire of the bus owners and this has been of some inconvenience to frequent travellers between Pune and other cities.