Pune: Even though the USP of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation's (MSRTC) famed Shivneri buses was the comfort and on-time service it provided to passengers, it seems this advantage is fast vanishing from the luxury bus' profile these days.
The maintenance required for these buses is not being taken up by a negligent depot maintenance section. As a result, the Shivneri buses are continuously running without checking brakes, oil and engine, posing a risk to the lives of the driver and passengers.
On Friday, three persons fled with a Shivneri bus' key near College of Military Engineering (CME) at Dapodi. According to eye witnesses, the accused opened the driver's door, which is usually automatically locked when the engine is on.
Shivneri buses boast of being high-tech with in-built automatic systems. When the engine is on, both the doors - passengers' and drivers' - lock automatically and there are beeps if open while the engine is on.
A staff member at Swargate depot, on condition of anonymity, said, "Almost every Shivneri bus needs maintenance and some need urgent replacement. But no one is listening to us, not even in the division. We are working under pressure and don't know what will happen if something goes wrong during the journey."
He added, "The passengers' lives are at risk. After returning from every journey, we maintain a log sheet about what is required and the kilometre run. If you see the log sheet, you will find that all Shivneri buses have some problems or the other.”
An MSRTC driver at Shivajinagar depot said every time an alert message is displayed on the dashboard about change of brake liner - which is most urgent - it gets ignored and drivers are least bothered about it. “Brake and engine are crucial components in a bus, which should always be well-maintained and functional.
We are driving from Pune to Mumbai (around 170 km) and Pune to Aurangabad (around 250 km) which takes almost two to four hours. If the brake is not functioning properly, our lives and those of passengers are at risk and the same thing is applicable for the engine. If the engine stops working, what will we do? Passengers will be forced to wait for hours,” said an MSRTC driver at Shivajinagar station.
MSRTC report awaited
MSRTC, Pune Division, recently completed inspection and checked all Shivneri buses (Volvo) after the incident in Khadki on January 28 in which two person were killed after getting hit by the rear panel door of the bus. MSRTC asked the technical team of Volvo to inspect all vehicles and submit a report within a month. The report is still awaited.
Gross negligence by maintenance section?
- When Sakal Times checked the ST depots at Swargate, Pune Station and Shivajinagar, it was found that most Shivneri buses' automatic systems are not working properly and urgently need maintenance.
- Most of these buses have crossed 10 lakh-km reading and need to be replaced soon.
- There are alert messages of bus engine, brake, fuel and other factors on the buses' digital dashboard. Alert messages like 'Check the brake', 'Check the engine on next stop' appear.
- A staff member of the maintenance section at Swargate ST station said that brakes need maintenance or replacement. Similarly, the engine checks are not happening since buses run on a tight schedule.