April 24, 2017 8:33:39 am
The ‘Pune Darshan’ service, started by the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) to promote the city as a tourist hub, seems to be losing tourists due to shortage of buses. Despite several demands, the transport service provider has been unable to deploy more buses for the daily city tours. ‘Pune Darshan’, a joint venture by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and PMPML, was launched in August 2015. The PMPML had allotted ten buses — seven for ferrying tourists from the airport to Kothrud and Hinjewadi and three for the special city tours.
The service is most in demand between October and December and March and June. However, the shortage has limited the number of passengers. With few availing the benefits of the day-long service, there have also been revenue losses up to several thousands. Geodirect, the private agency which handles the outsourced tour operations of the service, too faced several roadblocks in operating the city tours.
The low-floor air-conditioned luxury buses had to remain off the roads for about ten days earlier this month. Prem Kale, operating director of Geodirect, said, “There was a delay in getting the vehicle passes of the buses due to which we had to ply mini buses.” With three city tour buses having the capacity to ferry about 100 tourists per day, just 30 tourist bookings were accepted within ten days. “We had to limit the number of passenger bookings as we had to manage with just two mini buses, which too were outsourced,” said a senior guide with the tour service, who did not wish to be named.
Officials of Geodirect have had several meetings with the transport authority, however, most of their demands still remain unfulfilled. One of the demands was to increase the fleet of city tour buses, at least during the peak vacation season. “Our proposal has been pending with the PMPML and we are hopeful that we will be provided at least five buses in our fleet,” said Kale. According to officials at PMPML, the transport authority earns lesser royalty from these special service buses, making it difficult to allocate additional buses. “It is not feasible for us, at this moment, to allot more buses for tours as we earn little in royalty, which also results in losses in the service,” said a senior official from PMPML.
Airport route from Kothrud was also suspended recently, following fewer takers. “This step was taken without seeking our permission,” said a PMPML staffer. “We had to temporarily suspend Kothrud-airport route as there were no passengers on multiple occasions,” added Kale. On whether there were any plans on reviewing the airport routes in the city, he said, a detailed survey will have to be undertaken in this regard.
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