Pune: The Regional Transport Office (RTO) cracked down on private bus operators by collecting a fine of Rs 79.28 lakh on 435 buses from April to August 2017 for carrying passengers without the requisite transport permit.
In last five months, 3,200 buses were checked mid-journey by RTO officials, who also seized 180 of them for flouting the rules. The buses were taken to RTO offices in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
The RTO officials said the most common violations are travelling without permits, not having a fitness certificate, carrying excessive numbers of passengers, stage carriers, etc.
“As per the court orders, we have decided to take strict action against private vehicles carrying passengers illegally. We started taking action against them overnight, continuing with it till the morning. We took action against luxury buses and jeeps, which conduct stage carriers without proper permits in place,” said Vinod Sagare, Deputy Regional Transport Officer.
According to the law, private luxury buses are allowed only contract carriage. It means the vehicles will be engaged to travel between two points. They can’t pick up other passengers on the route. However, private buses often pick up and drop commuters at various spots within the city. They often park illegally, resulting in traffic chaos.
RTO officials termed the drive a success. Sagare said, “Special squads worked overnight on Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Kolhapur highways besides locations like Shivajinagar, Sangamwadi and Swargate, where private buses generally halt to pick up passengers. The squads found buses without permits required for passenger transport.” Private luxury buses are supposed to ferry passengers on a point-to-point basis. Many drivers were found picking up passengers mid-way. The transporters were also charging a variable fare.
When contacted, private operators, however, they said they were being victimised by the State. “Despite paying a heavy tourist tax and permit fee, we are facing strict action. During late nights, every bus operator provides stage carrier services for the convenience and safety of passengers. We’ve been demanding legalising this service. Now, commuters may find it difficult to get autorickshaws or taxis to take them to their final destination,” said a private bus owner.