December 9, 2013 1:45:24 am
The decision of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) to add 1,660 buses to its fleet has drawn flak from commuter organisations who feel the transport utility does not have adequate infrastructure and an efficient system to manage the augmented fleet.
After the addition of 1,660 buses (660 on hire,500 under JNNURM and 500 procured under deferred payment basis),the fleet will almost be doubled to around 3,400 buses from the present 1,750. This is very disturbing as there is no information on setting up of proper infrastructure and efficient system to manage the augmented fleet, said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.
He said the present bus fleet is inadequate to meet the requirements of PMC,PCMC and other areas. The PMPML has failed in the efficient management of the present bus fleet. Today,30 per cent of the buses remain off roads for various reasons. Quality of service in terms of frequency,reliability and safety,which are basic parameters for any bus service,is also poor, said Inamdar. Despite PMPML fares being one of the highest in the country,the transport utility is making huge losses. There are several issues that need to be addressed before adding more buses in the fleet, he added.
Jugal Rathi of PMP Pravasi Manch said,The increase in the number of buses should be decided not on the basis of generalised considerations but as per realistic demand arrived at after detailed scientific studies. We are not aware if such studies are undertaken before taking such decisions.
In the past,Rathi said the addition of buses has neither resulted in the proportionate increase in the number of passengers nor improved service. In fact,with increased buses,there has been a decline in the number of passengers,which indicates poor performance. This clearly means that PMPML is unable to manage the increased bus fleet.
Inamdar said with the entire focus on increasing the bus fleet,vital issues such as lack of competent management,technical expertise,skilled manpower,inadequate infrastructure,insufficient financial support from PMC,PCMC and the state government among others are not being addressed. No effort is being made by PMPML to improve performance by adopting better planning and management practices,system improvements,performance monitoring,route rationalisation etc.
Rathi said 16 depots are required to manage the present bus fleet,but only 10 are available. There is also a shortage of workshops,parking space and skilled manpower.
In a letter to PMPML CMD Shrikar Pardeshi and other top officials,Inamdar said,PMPML management along with PMC and PCMC should make its action plan public.
Senior PMPML officials said because of financial crunch,they have not been able to set up proper infrastructure. However,once we get additional buses,there would be better connectivity,increase in passenger count and increased revenue. We are awaiting Rs 100-crore assistance from the state government,which will solve lots of our problems, they said.
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