THE ONCE popular Pune-Mumbai Shivneri bus service provided by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) is fast falling out of favour with commuters as better options have come up in the last few years compounded by numerous gaps in the service, according to a survey conducted by a state transport commuters’ group.
The survey, conducted by ‘Bus for Us’ — a group of dedicated users of state transport from across the state — shows that passengers are unhappy with high pricing, lack of cleanliness, operational delays, flexibility in boarding/deboarding and glitches in online booking facility.
The study, which interviewed Shivneri users in Pune and Mumbai for more than eight days, has recommended that the service will be able to regain popularity, only if the transport body addresses all the issues pointed out by commuters.
Rohit Dhende, who heads Bus for Us, said two of the most pressing concerns pointed out by commuters were high fares and lack of cleanliness.
“Before we started the survey, we reviewed the history of the Shivneri service since 2006. At present, 125 buses operate on the Pune-Mumbai route with a frequency of one bus every half an hour. Besides lack of cleanliness and high fares, passengers also pointed to issues in online booking. For example, those who book bus tickets online and wait at Wakad or Hinjewadi often realise that the bus is delayed. Since delays have a cascading effect, the MSRTC should let passengers board other Shivneri buses on the same route if vacant seats are available. This often discourages passengers from making online reservation,” Dhende said.
Although commuters have demanded that the MSRTC should operate direct buses from Hinjewadi to Dadar, Borivali and Thane, the transport body has not complied.
“A while ago, they started the Asiad bus service from Hinjewadi but that failed to attract customers and was later discontinued,” said Dhende, adding that private bus operations provided much-needed flexibility in booking tickets and boarding/deboarding and hence passengers often choose them over the Shivneri service.
Recently, the MSRTC revised fares on Pune-Mumbai routes: Swargate-Borivali-Swargate Shivneri fare was reduced to Rs 525 from Rs 616, Pune station-Dadar-Pune station fare came down to Rs 440 from Rs 520, and Swargate-Dadar-Swargate fare was reduced to Rs 460 from Rs 540. According to the study, fares are still quite high as compared to private buses.
Yamini Joshi, Divisional Controller, MSRTC, said she had directed the department concerned to ensure that buses were cleaned after each trip and to ensure that all other expected facilities were provided.
“We will also consider other suggestions from Shivneri passengers through this survey,” Joshi said.
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