The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) has been mostly in news for the wrong reasons. It caters to a combined population of over 65 lakh in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. It boasts of around a million ridership per day and has around 2,000 buses in its fleet, of these only over a half ply daily.
A city bus is the only affordable mode of public transport available to lakhs of urbanites and people coming from outside. The cities are planned to be transformed into smart cities under the Centre’s flagship Smart Cities
Mission. In fact, the project was launched from Pune by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2016. However, the city is still far away from becoming smart, for which an efficient public transport is a prerequisite.
City buses going up in flames and hapless commuters pushing broken-down buses are the enduring images that Puneites have of the public transport.
In the absence of a good city bus service, people have been forced to use personal vehicles and have been contributing, unwillingly, to pollution.
The first two metro rail routes will take another three-four years to complete. By that time, the traffic scenario in these cities is likely to worsen further.
Here are some of the issues, which indicate that urgent attention is needed. In all, 17 buses catching fire in two years is an alarming figure. Around 75 breakdowns daily and 3,500 commuters getting stranded daily points to hardships caused to passengers. Breakdowns triple during rainy days. PMPML buses were involved in accidents. Drunk driving, untrained drivers, maintenance issues, absence of fire extinguishers, short supply of spares and a lack of breathalysers came to light in the past.
CNG-run buses have frequent maintenance issues, which have not been properly addressed since their introduction in the fleet. Now, the civic body wants to purchase electric buses. Let’s hope the PMC and PCMC put in place the necessary infrastructure and technical support before they ply on city roads.
Manpower crunch and revenue deficit need to be addressed.
It was learnt that short-circuits caused fires as wire joints were not wrapped with adhesive tape. Is the transport utility putting passengers’ lives in danger for non-availability of adhesive tapes?
The two civic bodies are duty-bound to support the PMPML and manage it well.
Here goes the CMD’s message posted on the PMPML website: “To facilitate a sustainable, efficient, safe and well maintained transport infrastructure allowing urban and rural dwellers the opportunity to participate in economic opportunities and access essential services especially for students and women.”