The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has been hit badly by the lockdown as its revenue collection has plunged drastically. The transport undertaking, which had been incurring losses for years, is grappling with a serious crisis as its daily loss has increases to Rs 7 lakh per day.
PMPML, which ran 1,600 buses daily till the lockdown, only runs 100-120 buses daily now. These buses ferry employees who are involved in providing essential services like civic staff, government staff, police personnel and hospital staff.
“… We also run smaller buses for carrying officials from one civic or government office to another. These smaller buses are run on diesel. For running all these buses, we need fuel worth Rs 8 lakh. But our daily ticket fare collection from these buses is in the range of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.20 lakh. This means PMPML is incurring a daily loss of Rs 7 lakh,” said PMPML spokesperson Subhash Gaikwad.
PMPML Chairperson and Managing Director Naina Gunde said, “Our daily revenue collection was nearly Rs 1.50 crore. And now it has come down to only Rs 1 lakh or so, which is a big blow…”.
While the transport body usually ferries over 11 lakh local residents every day, during the lockdown, “the number has come down to only 10,000,” said Gunde.
She said drivers and conductors have been told to ensure that only those who possess valid identity cards and are involved in essential services should be ferried during the lockdown. “Other local residents are not allowed to commute as per the guidelines,” she said.
Social distancing norms are strictly followed inside the buses, said Gunde. “The conductors have been told to ensure that only one passenger is seated on one seat. If a passenger is seated next to the window, the passenger seated behind should not sit near the window but sit on the diaognally opposite side,” she said, adding that sanitiser has been provided at bus depots and stands. “Bus stands are regularly disinfected,” she added.
“Most of the buses are connected to all major hospitals, such as Sassoon and YCM, as doctors, nurses, medical staff have to be taken to their destinations,” said Gunde.
Gaikwad said though no driver or conductor has been diagnosed with COVID-19 yet, three staffers working in different depots were found to have contracted the virus. “Two of them had not been coming to work for more than a week before they were diagnosed. The third one was absent from work for a month. At least 30 employees had been in quarantine after these three employees tested positive,” he said.
Activist Prashant Inamdar, who heads NGO Pedestrians First, said since PMPML was catering to civic and state government employees, the civic bodies should compensate the losses suffered by the transport undertaking. “PMPML is playing an important role in difficult times. The government should direct PMC and PCMC to compensate the PMPML for its current losses… the government should also extend financial assistance to the PMPML,” he said.
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