Over 70 PMPML buses from total of 308 that use CNG not utilised to full potential because gas stations remain few and far between; buses at Katraj depot hardest hit.
In a new headache for the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML), there is not enough compressed natural gas (CNG) for all the buses of the public transport service that run on the fuel. The PMPML has 308 buses from various depots that run on CNG.
Running out of gas: A CNG bus of the PMPML. The fuel problem began
when 223 CNG buses were added to the fleet recently. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
The major problem is with the Katraj depot, where over 70 CNG buses are parked at night and often cannot be used to their full potential as most of them do not get the required supply of CNG. "Currently, the PMPML has a total of 1,370 buses plying on the roads, of which 308 buses are exclusively CNG," said R N Joshi, director and CEO, PMPML.
"We did not have any problems when the first lot of 85 CNG buses was inducted into the PMPML fleet in 2008 during the Commonwealth Youth Games because we have two CNG pumps at Nehrunagar Depot in Pimpri and another at Narveer Tanaji Wadi in Shivajinagar."
According to Joshi, the problem started when 223 CNG buses under the JNNURM entered the PMPML fleet three months ago. "We are pursuing the issue of having more CNG stations at the PMPML depots in Kothrud, Hadapsar and Katraj in due course of time to cater to all the CNG buses in the fleet," he said.
Sunil Burse, chief engineer, PMPML, admitted that getting immediate CNG access for all the 308 buses in the fleet was a problem. "There is a problem faced by about 26 per cent of the total CNG buses in the PMPML fleet," he said. "We are pursuing the issue with the Maharashtra Natural Gas Limited (MNGL) and asking it to make CNG available at three more places as early as possible."
Sandeep Rairikar, a scientist at the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in the city, agreed that there was a paucity of CNG filling stations considering the growing number of vehicles that use the fuel in the city. "PMPML must be feeling the pinch since the new lot of CNG buses arrived in its fleet and MNGL should take up the issue on a priority basis," he said.
R A Yadnik, marketing manager, MNGL, said, "We are already working on the CNG station at Kothrud and expect it to start shortly. There should not be any issue regarding CNG when the Kothrud pumping station gets functioning."
CNG buses in PMPML fleet today: 308
New CNG buses expected to join fleet in three months under JNNURM: 277