Written by Aparna Singh
Residents of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad are facing several problems due to the inefficiency of the transport system at the central bus stand near the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) headquarters. They complain that the poor frequency of buses on several routes causes a lot of problems, especially for residents of Alandi, Hinjewadi, Chikhli, Vishrantwadi, Nigdi, Chakan, Dehu Road and Dhanori.
Shweta P, who lives near Alandi, has to commute daily to Pune where she works in a shop. “My work finishes at 10 pm. But at that time, the PMC stand does not have a bus that goes to my home. I have to go to the highway to catch a private bus,” she said.
Many commuters said the buses heading to Nigdi, Alandi, Vishrantwadi and Hinjewadi are all jam-packed, and often delayed. When some buses do not come on time at the central bus stand, passengers are told that those buses are either cancelled or have broken down. They are asked to wait for the next bus. Many said there are fewer buses on some routes.
Abhyuday Endait, a second-year mass media student in the city, said commuters waiting at the bus stand often do not learn that a bus has been cancelled until more than half an hour after its scheduled arrival. “I travel to Chakan very frequently. The buses for that route rarely arrive on time, and they are always very late. For example, if a bus’s arrival time is 2.30 pm, then it won’t come till 3 pm. And sometimes, after waiting till 3 pm, we are informed that the bus won’t come, so then we have to wait for the next one,” said Endait. He added, “Sometimes, after the buses arrive, they tell us to wait because the bus is undergoing maintenance. Whenever there is a cancellation, the next bus is always very crowded. We only get a place to sit when the bus comes on time.”
Daniel Chakranarayn, a resident of Dehu Road, said, “Professionals and students who live on Dehu Road and areas around it are badly affected because there are only a few buses that go there. Not just PMC headquarters, there are few buses even to Pune station and Karjat. Most people travel by local trains, but even their frequency is poor.”
A woman who lives in Nigdi said, “One bus cannot accommodate all the commuters at the PMC bus stand. If one bus goes, commuters are often told that either the bus has broken down or is caught in a traffic jam. So there are lots of delays,” she said.
At the central bus stand last week, of the eight buses that were to travel to Chinchwadgaon, only six actually turned up. The same was the case for Nigdi and Chakan. Officials said of the eight buses that were supposed to run on the route to Nigdi, only six buses made the trip and for Chakan-Rajgurunagar, only two of the four buses turned up.
Officials of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) blamed private contractors for the problems. “We don’t get enough support from private contractors. We also have other problems. At least 355 buses owned by the PMPML, are more than 10 years old, so they do not support new technology,” said PMPML spokesperson Subhash Gaikwad.
The PMPML has at least 2,053 buses, of which 653 are provided by private contractors. “We need at least 500 of these on the road. We are also facing problems due to the construction of the Pune Metro, which is delaying buses. We are trying our best to provide the best service to passengers. We are also working on a project with at least 1,000 new buses, which might be launched by next year.”
Talegaon commuters worst hit
A few years ago, the PMPML stopped direct buses to Talegaon, which affected thousands of office-goers and students who travel to Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
There are no direct buses to PMC headquarters, Katraj and Pune station from Talegaon, unlike in other suburbs of Pune. According to the PMC, the service was stopped because it was not turning in profits. Talegaon has its own municipal council and a population of at least one lakh.
Kalyani Sambhus, a resident of Talegaon, said, “We have no direct buses to Pune station, PMC headquarters or Katraj. There are buses up to Nigdi. We have to take another bus, and even these are few in number with a long waiting time.”
Shrirang Barne, the MP of Maval, said, “How can PMPML stop a bus service just because it is not profit making?” He said he will write to the PMPML to request it to restart the service. Siddharth Shirole, the director of PMPML, said he will look into the issue.