Incurring losses and short-staffed,the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has hired a Pune-based firm to run the city bus service.
Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions Private Limited is all set to start work in about a week. It will provide staff,diesel,and maintenance of 75 buses and charge the LMC at the rate of Rs 30 per kilometre for its services. The firm has been hired for 10 years.
LMC sources said that the decision had been taken because the buses were running in loss and the MC failed to maintain them properly due to a staff crunch.
Originally,the LMC had a fleet of 50 non-AC buses. Last Friday,25 new buses were added when Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal flagged them off at PAU.
The new vehicles comprise five AC buses,10 mini-buses and 10 standard non-AC buses.
The AC buses have been bought from TATA at Rs 62 lakh each,mini-buses from SML Isuzu at Rs 16 lakh each,and the other non-AC buses at Rs 48 lakh each.
The city was to get as many as 200 buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,but has got only 75. The Centre bears 50 per cent of the cost,the state government 20 per cent and the local civic body 30 per cent.
Baljit Singh,manager of city bus service,said,The mini-buses have been brought for congested areas where normal buses cannot go. These will be run in areas like Shimlapuri,Haibowal,Sherpur chowk,DMCH area and industrial area.
Each mini-bus can accommodate 29 passengers while the capacity of other buses is 36.
Asked why the buses have been given on contract,he said,We were facing extreme staff shortage. With the hiring of this firm,the buses will be properly cleaned and maintained.
We have an operating cost of Rs 34-35 per km,now it will be Rs 30 per km. In future,the depreciation will be more,so we will save a lot of money by bringing in the private firm, he said.
The fare in AC buses will be double of that in non-AC buses. It will be Rs 10 upto 5 km,Rs 15 for 5 to 10 km and Rs 20 for more than 10 km. The buses will be useful in winters too,as these have temperature control systems.
The proposed routes for AC buses are Clock Tower railway station,Chandigarh route upto Lohara,Ayali Chowk route and Delhi road upto Sahnewal. However,these are still tentative.
In the 25 new buses,a system has been installed which will ensure that the buses will move only after the doors are closed. Another 125 buses coming in future will also have this system.
People keep boarding or getting off the moving bus. Now the bus will stop on the spot if the doors are not closed, said Singh. He added that the remaining 125 buses were expected to be here by February 2014.