Luxury, safety and comfort. Add cost-effectiveness to it and one would have a dream transport service between various clusters in Pune city, and the Lohegaon airport. Haggling with autowallahs and taxi drivers who ask for four to five times the normal fare, from early morning fliers in particular, will be a thing of the past. If everything goes as planned by outgoing PMPML chief Shrikar Pardeshi, the luxury mode of transport to and fro the Lohegaon airport will be a reality within a month. The icing on the cake is that the cost would not be high, as compared to what autowallahs and taxiwallahs fleece from travellers heading for the airport to catch a flight. There will be special place for the luggage, and CCTV for enhanced security.
Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) will start the luxury bus service and the plan is to tie up with a private player to provide the amenities and run the buses. The plan was recently cleared by Pardeshi, the outgoing Managing Director and Chairman of PMPML. The bus service will be operated by private operators as per a Public Private Partnership plan. PMPML will acquire the buses and has floated tenders for that.
What Pardeshi did was bring to fruition a plan that had been doing the rounds for the past decade. Dhairyashil Vandekar, the former chairman of the Pune Airlines Operators Committee said that he had been pushing for such a service for over seven years. “Pardeshi had the will and vision to take the idea forward,” he said.
“There are several cities in India that have similar services, and are quite popular among fliers. I was working with an airline. When I chaired the Pune Airline Operators Committee I had pushed for such a service in Pune city. Due to one reason or the other it did not materialise. The keen interest shown by Mr Shrikar Pardeshi and MP Anil Shirole put the project finally on track. We hope these buses will be swankier than the average buses and will have separate luggage space, and CCTV cameras to ensure security,” said Vandekar.
PMPML has floated a tender to acquire 10 luxury buses of which 4 will be used as HoHo (Hop-on-Hop-Off) tourist buses to be used for the Pune Darshan scheme. Six buses will be dedicated to serve travellers to and fro the airport.
Pardeshi said the PMPML would buy the buses, and private operators will provide drivers and conductors. The private operator will be responsible for maintenance of the buses as well.
“We are outsourcing the service, for both the airport shuttle service and Pune Darshan scheme. The private operator selected will provide the manpower and training, the CCTVs and amenities such as water bottles for passengers. They will pay us a fixed premium,” said Pardeshi.
Pardeshi said the services will be started from areas that have a demand for an airport shuttle service-Hinjewadi IT park, Kothrud and Pimpri-Chinchwad and MIDC areas-to name a few.
“We are waiting for entries from private companies. We will issue the tender and hope buses will be on the road within a month,” said Pardeshi.
Swati Chatterjee, a resident of Patrakar Nagar, said there was a pressing need for such a servic”. “Whenever I go home to Kolkata, I have to book a cab as there are no buses at four in the morning. I end up paying an exorbitant fare. If PMPML starts such a service which is timely and convenient it will certainly be popular among fliers.”