Home is where their bus is

For the drivers and conductors of The Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) bus services, the vehicle is their home.

Since the past 10 years, due to lack of basic amenities such as clean drinking water, public toilets, canteen and restrooms near Panvel railway station, drivers and conductors rest in their respective buses at the end of the day.

Some drivers have made their driving cabins home by bringing water drums along. In addition to the discomfort, the conductors and drivers also have to bear the brunt of local hooligans and beggars late in the night.

A conductor said, requesting anonymity, “Since the past 10 years, we don’t even have clean drinking water at this depot. We have raised this issue with the NNMT more than once, and a delegation has met CIDCO too, but the issue has not been resolved yet.”

It is not only the conductors and bus drivers who are complaining — commuters who use the bus depot to board the buses are also annoyed with the lack of infrastructure and basic amenities.

“Many people alight at Panvel railway station as it is a major stop on the harbour line. The number of college students and office-goers has increased rapidly over the past few years but the infrastructure hasn’t improved. It is especially inconvenient to the women,” said a passenger.

NMMT traffic superintendent Pandit Tandel, however, blamed CIDCO and NMMT for lack of cooperation. He said, “CIDCO and the railways have not helped NMMT with this issue. A plan has been in the pipeline for a long time now, but it has not been executed yet. Earlier, the drivers and conductors took shelter under trees — but now drivers rest in their cabins. Also, the new AC buses are not allowed to enter the railway premises. So they have to stop at the entrance itself. The lack of coordination between CIDCO and the railways has made the life of commuters miserable. Our staff is suffering.”

A passenger said, “Many commuters use this depot but the frequency of the buses is not optimum. The authorities should increase the frequency of buses.” A conductor also claimed that they have written many letters to NMMT and CIDCO but their requests have fallen on deaf ears. 

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