Pune: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has claimed that the air-conditioned (AC) Shivshahi bus service is cheaper and more comfortable than the private bus service. However, passengers prefer private buses for better comfort during a long journey.
Passengers claimed that Shivshahi buses are not as comfortable as compared to private luxury buses. Initially, Shivshahi got a good response from passengers due to its low fares. Shivshahi fares are still cheaper than private buses plying from Pune to Nagpur, Goa, Nashik, Solapur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and other parts of the State.
Buses being run by private operators are semi-sleeper or sleeper as they travel on a long night journey. Shivshahi has push-back seats, which does not provide leg room.
Deepak Tupe, a regular traveller to Solapur from Pune, said, "Shivshahi buses are good but its seats are very small and not comfortable. I would prefer an ordinary ST bus or travel by private buses."
“Every week, I travel to Solapur, and initially, I travelled by Shivshahi buses. Later, I realised that its seats are not more comfortable than the ordinary ST buses. Hence, I went back to the private bus service, which is sleeper coaches and blankets are provided during the night journey,” he said and added that the journey by private bus is costly but comfortable.
Another passenger, Devendra Sontakke, who hails from Jalgaon, said there is no Shivshahi service to Jalgaon. Hence, he travels by a private bus.
“I frequently visit Jalgaon as part of my marketing job. However, there is no Shivshahi service to Jalgaon and so I travel by private buses. Private buses provide comfort and are punctual and especially during night journey, these buses are more comfortable,” he said.
On the other hand, MSRTC officials said State transport does not have sleeper coaches. “Shivshahi is a low-cost service and we have a tough competition from private players. When we started Shivshahi for Nashik, Goa, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Solapur, all tickets were sold out in advance and it got a good response. If anyone is claiming that Shivshahi is not comfortable, a wrong message is being spread,” said a highly placed officer of MSRTC, Pune Division.
Other reasons for passengers turning their back on Shivshahi buses is that their AC system does not work properly and the drivers are not professional and trained as the MSRTC officials claim.
Irshad Shaikh, a resident of Kolhapur, said, “We have no other option than the Shivshahi bus for Kolhapur due to its affordability. Private bus operators charge Rs 650 and above. However, Shivshahi drivers are not professional and trained. Sometimes, they switch off the AC system during the journey. When asked about this, they bluntly reply that AC would break down if it runs continuously.”
Dnyaneshwar Ranaware, Divisional Traffic Officer, MSRTC, said, “Drivers have been instructed to not turn off the AC. Also, the transport department is conducting training for the drivers of Shivshahi.”