Tourists planning to go sightseeing in Pune in the ongoing vacation season may soon be ferried in a red PMPML bus, which is otherwise meant to ferry passengers to and from the airport. For the last 10 days, only mini-buses were being used for ‘Pune Darshan’, instead of regular luxury buses, and these could accommodate only half of the usual number of tourists. By Monday, the mini buses were replaced with regular buses, but tourists were denied the experience of travelling in the special city-tour bus. The special city-tour buses are fully air-conditioned, have a wider window for sightseeing, an audio system so that the guides can interact with tourists, along with a TV and music system for entertainment.
Confirming the development, officials at Geodirect, the company which handles the outsourced tour operations, stated, “Whenever there are problems with our special tour buses, we operate the buses that otherwise ply passengers to the airport.” The officials said that there had been a delay in issuing fitness certificates to the regular ‘Pune Darshan’ buses by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). Pune Darshan, a joint venture by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), was launched in August 2015. During the day-long tour, visitors are taken to the most popular places in and around the city. Some of the popular spots include Agakhan Palace, Shaniwarwada, Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, Chaturshrungi temple, Ambedkar museum, and Sarasbaug, among others.
Incidentally, with the vacation season underway and the beginning of the peak time for tours, operators are in a dilemma about how they will manage Pune Darshan tours. “We are hopeful about getting back our buses so that the tourists get to enjoy not only the various popular places but also the overall journey around the city,” said a guide. During the last 10 days, mini buses that can accommodate a maximum of 15 persons were playing tourists, limiting the number of tourists who could go sightseeing. The company would also have lost out on sizeable revenue, given that the tour charge is Rs 500 per person and the average number of tourists every day is anywhere between 70 to 90, with three tour buses operating simultaneously. “We had to deny some bookings as were unable to accommodate more than 30 tourists in a day, given that we did not have our regular buses,” added the tour guide.
However, B L Ajri, Regional Transport Officer, Pune denied that there was any delay in the issuance of fitness certificates to ‘Pune Darshan’ buses. “There was no delay from the RTO …,” Ajri told The Indian Express.