Under fire for frequent accidents, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has now made it mandatory for Shiv Shahi bus drivers, recruited by private contractors who operate part of the total fleet, to pass the driving test on automated driving track test (ADTT) at its Bhosari facility.
There are a total of 998 Shiv Shahi buses in the MSRTC’s fleet, of which 498 are operated by private contractors and 500 are owned and operated by the transport body. As per information provided by MSRTC, of the total 240 accidents that happened between July 2017, when the Shiv Shahi service was launched, and July 2018, 84 accidents involved contractual buses. As many as 22 passengers have lost their lives and 291 have been injured in those accidents.
“The MSRTC is taking every precaution to reduce the number of accidents involving Shiv Shahi buses. All the drivers are being given special training to drive the volvo buses, which are bigger in size than regular MSRTC buses. They are also being given incentives and rewards for safe driving, being subjected to health and eye check-up among other things,” said a senior official.
He added that apart from this, all the seven private contractors, who operate Shiv Shahi buses for MSRTC, have been instructed to strictly adhere to safety practices such as giving adequate rest to drivers and ensuring that they are in their best health when they take to the wheel. “We had several meetings with the contractors to ensure adherence to the safety norms,” said the official.
“Recently, we have also made it mandatory for the drivers with private contractors to undergo a 48-day induction training at MSRTC’s Central Training Institute at Bhosari before they hit the road. Now, it is also mandatory for them to clear the test on the ADTT to drive a Shiv Shahi,” said the official.
Shiv Shahi service was started by MSRTC to provide comfort travel, which is cheaper than its existing Shivneri service that is a premium brand of high-end Volvo and Scania buses. The service, which was initially started on major routes within the state such as Pune- Mumbai, Pune-Nashik, Mumbai-Nashik, Mumbai-Aurangabad and Pune-Aurangabad, was later spread out to the rest of Maharashtra. It has evoked good response from the passengers. Following this, the MSRTC has recently launched sleeper version of the Shiv Shahi service for overnight journey.