180 days, 159 breakdowns
Traffic congestion is on the rise in the city, and frequent PMPML bus breakdowns are only complicating the situation. No less than 159 buses have broken down on roads in the past six months and added to the traffic chaos, say the traffic police.
Need funds: PMPML
PMPML officials say they are helpless in the face of unavailability of spare parts and lack of funds and basic infrastructure. DCP (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare said there are over 35 PMPML breakdowns every month. “Buses breaking down in peak hours has become a routine thing and it is creating heavy traffic congestion,” Pandhare said. “Every month, generally 35 to 40 buses break down. As a bus occupies almost half of the road, when a breakdown happens the entire traffic flow is choked.”
Commuters fed up
Commuters are tired of facing bus problems that they say are frequent enough to warrant strict action against those responsible. “I go to Kothrud depot to catch the bus for office. It is my experience that often a bus breaks down after two or three stops, and then we have to catch another bus, which is generally overcrowded,” Swapni Shinde said. “All this also robs me of a lot of time.” Prashant Dhanokar, another bus commuter, said the traffic police were lenient towards PMPML buses. “The traffic police take immediate action against two-wheelers, but ignore the problems caused by PMPML buses,” Dhanokar said. “These buses create a lot of traffic problems as they violate traffic rules.”
Need permanent fix
DCP Pandhare said the traffic police always gave top priority to removing buses stalled on roads. “To move the bus immediately from the spot is our topmost priority. We levy a fine also, but it is not the solution, because a roadblock for even 10 minutes can create a huge traffic problem,” Pandhare said. “We have held a meeting with PMPML officials and have talked about having a sustainable and permanent solution to avoid breakdowns.” PMPML officials say that lack of funds means they do not get the basic infrastructure and facilities required to keep buses in good condition.
“Buses are overburdened and there is lack of proper servicing and maintenance,” PMPML chief engineer Sunil Burase said. “Everybody is criticising the PMPML and comparing it with (Mumbai’s) BEST, but no one considers what circumstances our buses are running under. Metro cities like Mumbai and Bangalore get sufficient funds. In comparison, the PMPML doesn’t have even basic infrastructure like proper depots.” He said that non-availability of of spare parts was the biggest concern for PMPML. PMPML officials recently held a special meeting with Tata and Ashok Leyland and asked the two manufacturers to provide PMPML with spare parts on a priority basis.