Roused by the Santosh Mane incident, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will now go the extra mile to prevent a repeat of a similar incident in the future. The MSRTC administration has purchased over 100 alcometers so that that they can check if a ST driver has consumed alcohol before he takes the steering wheel. If any driver is found to have had a drink, an enquiry will be initiated and if he is found guilty then he could be dismissed from service. MSRTC officials said that they have been implementing such checks for a long time, but after Pune bus driver Santosh Mane was awarded the death sentence, they now intend to put the brakes on any such recurrences.
Time for action
“The Mane incident is a shameful incident. We will initiate random checking of on-duty bus drivers. Armed with the alcometers, line staff will breathalyse the drivers to detect alcohol content. In case the result is positive, the driver would have to immediately handover the bus, and an enquiry would be initiated against him,” said a MSRTC official, on condition of anonymity. The alcometer, which cost approximately Rs 12,000 each, would be given to the line staff that are also tasked with inspecting tickets on MSRTC’s fleet of buses. “It won’t come as a surprise if we find a driver plying a bus under the influence of alcohol. We have come across a few incidences like these in the past, but since there was no damage, the drivers were only reprimanded. Now, stringent action would be taken,” said the official.
Another important measure the transport body will undertake to ensure passengers’ safety would be the installation of an emergency stop button that would bring a bus to a halt if a driver is driving recklessly. “The emergency button would be installed near the conductor’s seat and in case of any emergency, the button would be pressed and help would be sought,” said the official. Mukund Dhus, PRO, MSRTC, said, “We already have systems in place to scrutinise drivers before they take charge of the bus. But, to provide safety to passengers and prevent any untoward incident, the decision of using alcometers has been finalised.”
MSRTC, which runs 16,000 buses, has 37,000 drivers and 35,000 conductors on its payroll and ferries 7 million passengers, conducting 86,000 trips daily across the state. Nearly 600 line staff have been authorised to check buses for ticketless travellers. There are 30 divisions and each division has an average of 20 such line staff. It also has 248 depots in 30 divisions. In case of need of help, passengers can also register their complaint on the toll free number 1800-221-250