AlREADY under fire from commuters for doing little to encourage them to use PMPML buses, the transport body on Wednesday took several steps that further angered the commuters. It decided to increase the monthly pass rate by 17 per cent, hike the fine for ticketless travel by Rs 200 and scrap the weekly pass plan. “There is something wrong with the… PMPML. It has been continuously taking anti-commuter decisions,” said Jugal Rathi, who heads the PMP Pravasi Manch, a commuters’ organisation. However, Mundhe said all the decisions “were taken in the interest of commuters and the PMPML”.
Rathi pointed out that the organisation had earlier supported the efforts being made by PMPML chief Tukaram Mundhe to ensure discipline in the transport body’s functioning and crack the whip against errant employees. However, Rathi said the three decisions announced today, and an earlier one about increasing the daily pass rate from Rs 50 to Rs 70, would only discourage commuters from using PMPML buses and force them to take private vehicles.
“As per my information, 35,000 commuters were using daily passes before the hike. After the hike, the number of daily pass commuters have reduced to 15,000,” he said.
Rathi claimed the three decisions announced by Mundhe on Wednesday would also hit the commuters hard.
“Why has the PMPML increased the monthly pass rate from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,400? In fact, the rate should have been reduced so that more and more commuters can use PMPML. If using PMPML buses becomes costlier, people will opt for private vehicles, which will further clog the already clogged Pune roads,” he said.
Rishikesh Marale (21), a Puneite, said, “I was thinking of giving up my two-wheeler because of the increasing number of two-wheeler accidents on city roads. But this news, about the PMPML hiking pass rates, is certainly discouraging”.
On the transport body’s decision to increase the fine amount from Rs 100 to Rs 300 for ticketless travellers, another commuter said, “Every day, I travel by PMPML buses and every day, there are arguments on board the buses. This is because ticket checkers rush inside the jam-packed buses… when a commuter has not even travelled one kilometre… and the conductor has not reached him. This leads to arguments on buses. A commuter should be fined only when he deboards the bus without a ticket…”.
Rathi said the PMPML has closed down several pass centres as well. “… They are making pass centres inaccessible. At least 15 pass centres have been shut down,” he said.
Explaining the steps taken by PMPML, Mundhe said, “The earlier decision regarding increasing the pass rate from Rs 50 to Rs 70 and the latest decision, to increase the monthly pass rate, brings some kind of parity… For instance, if a commuter uses a daily pass of Rs 70 for 30 days, the amount comes to Rs 2,100, which showed the wide gap with the Rs 1,200 monthly pass plan”.
Mundhe also denied the claim that the number of daily pass users had gone down drastically after the hike.
“By 6 pm today, we have over 19,000 daily pass users…the conclusions drawn by the commuter body are wrong,” he said. Mundhe also supported the decision to increase the fine amount, saying it would act as a deterrent to those who “deceive PMPML”.
On pass centres being shut down, he said centres that had only a few commuters had been shut down.
“All the decisions are taken in the interest of commuters and the PMPML. We have to look after the needs of PMPML buses and its staff as well,” said Mundhe.