PUNE: The year 2017 was an average year for the Pune division of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). The authority focused on increasing facilities for passengers. A major setback for MSRTC was when drivers and conductors went on a four-day strike during Diwali. The division lost Rs 4 crore revenue.
Four major depotes i.e. Swargate, Shivajinagar, Pune station and Vallabhnagar (Pimpri-Chinchwad) always need attention from the division, due to passengers losing valuables while waiting at the depots. It was observed that passengers’ valuables were stolen inside the buses. Finally, the division has begun installing CCTV cameras at all stations.
Early in July, many passengers were looted by a fake conductor, who was trying to sell tickets. The accused was nabbed three weeks after filing complaints at Swargate police station. In fact, the MSRTC had set up six teams to keep a close watch on ticket windows. These incidents forced the Pune division to send messages to the higher authority in Mumbai to provide better facilities. After that, the State Transport department gave permission to install CCTV cameras.
The plan, which was first conceptualised in 2012, has become a reality now, in the form of high end CCTV cameras. A total of 42 CCTV cameras have been installed in two of the major bus stands cum depots of the MSRTC in the city, and they are functional. Last month saw officials talking about the installations, stating that the cameras will be useful to them in many ways, including checking untoward and illegal happenings, if any, at the bus stations.
The State Transport department had taken a decision in July to start air-conditioned buses. Many passengers cannot afford travelling by AC buses. The department introduced ‘Shivshahi’ buses, at only 10 per cent extra fare than semi-luxury buses. Pune division started Shivshahi buses for Kolhapur, where many passengers would avoid travelling by Shivneri.
In Pune division, there are a total of 36 Shivshahi buses going to different destinations like Mumbai, Goa, Mahabaleshwar etc. The buses are fully air conditioned and the number of seats is 45.
MSRTC officials said that they plan to replace non-AC Hirkani buses with Shivshahi buses across all routes in phases. At present, there are 78 schedules of Hirkani buses from Pune, going to places like Kolhapur, Solapur, Thane, Mumbai etc. Shivashahi buses also started plying on the Pune-Latur and Pune-Beed routes recently.
A major setback for MSRTC was when drivers, conductors and other staffers of the State Transport went on an indefinite strike from October 17, for their demands pertaining to pay hike. There was also discussion about the demands being genuine or not. Employees were demanding Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 hike in their salaries, besides House Rent Allowance (HRA) and other benefits, according to the 7th Pay Commission. The Pune division of MSRTC suffered revenue loss amounting to Rs 4 crore. Rs 34 lakh was refunded to passengers who had booked their tickets online and from counters at Swargate, Shivajinagar, Vallabhnagar and Pimpri.