Buoyed by the success Mumbai-Pune Shivneri bus services that do not have conductors,Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has expanded the pattern to Pune-Kohapur,Pune-Sangli routes and semi-luxury buses on Pune-Dadar route. The state transport body has started as many as 113 Shivneri bus services.
MSRTC officials said the move of doing away with conductors will help the cash-strapped transport body save about Rs 58 lakh a month. Besides,it will be convenient for passengers as it will provide non-stop service between two busy destinations.
The state transport body already provides non-stop and conductor-less bus services on Pune-Nashik,Pune-Dadar,Pune-Thane and Pune-Aurganbad routes. MSRTC is also planning to install GPS devices on the buses to keep a tab on their whereabouts on the respective routes.
According to officials,the state transport body earns a revenue of Rs 1.5 crore from the conductor-less bus services.
On one hand we are aiming to cut costs by running services sans conductors,and on the other we are providing convenient facility to passengers as these services will be non-stop. This will save time, said Vijaykumar Diwate,Swargate depot manager.
Diwate said six conductors will be appointed in three shifts at Swargate depot to issue tickets to passengers. The booking counters will remain open from 5 am to 12 pm everyday.
Besides issuing tickets,these conductors will also guide passengers in boarding buses at suburban stops, he added.
The move,however,has evoked strong opposition from MSRTC workers unions that said the average occupancy of conductors on the buses where the change was introduced has dropped to half.
Sachin Parab,divisional secretary of the state transport workers union said,The average occupancy of the Pune-Mumbai buses was 72.5 per cent and these buses give maximum profit to MSRTC. The occupancy has now come down to 46 per cent. Also,its the conductors job to help senior citizen and disabled passengers during the journey but in absence of a conductor these passengers will have to face difficulties.
The union has threatened a strike if the transport body doesnt revoke its decision. MSRTC officials,however,said its too early to arrive at any conclusion about occupancy.
We will have to wait for at least two-three months to get a realistic picture about the occupancy and if the change has had any impact on it, said an official.