Written by AJAY JADHAV
The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) has slashed the number of buses plying on the roads by 50 per cent in the city and its suburbs, in an attempt to reduce crowding amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
PMPML runs its buses across multiple civic and cantonment areas including those of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pune Cantonment Board (PCB), Kirkee Cantonment Board (KCB), Dehuroad Cantonment Board (DCB), Pune Metropolitan Region (PMR) and villages surrounding the civic bodies.
Usually, PMPML has at least 1,700 buses on the roads, ferrying nearly 10 lakh commuters daily. But on Thursday, the transport utility only plied 850 buses.
“We have received directions to reduce the number of PMPML buses on the road to discourage people from commuting. The services have been brought down to 50 per cent of capacity,” said a PMPML officer.
“There has been an immediate effect of it as the number of commuters travelling by PMPML buses has reduced drastically to nearly 4 lakh,” he said, adding that the frequency of buses has been reduced by 50 per cent.
The PMPML is planning to ply more buses during peak hours. “If there are not sufficient buses during peak hours, then bus stops will get more crowded. So, the number of buses during peak hours has to be higher…,” said the PMPML officer.
Transport body officials said they were prepared to further reduce the frequency of buses as per government directions.
PMPML is also rotating its staff to ensure that all of them do not report to work at the same time. All buses are being washed regularly and the staff have been provided with masks to safeguard them from the infection.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who visited Pune on Wednesday, had directed the district administration to focus on ways to reduce the crowd in public transport services. “The PMPML will slowly start reducing the frequency of buses. This will discourage local residents from travelling in public transport,” he had said.
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