Around 450 buses don't ply on roads each day, owing to breakdowns, repairs or unavailability of spare parts. However, commuter groups say even fully functional buses are kept back in depots for trivial reasons, like painting, changing window panes
The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) is continuing to bleed money, as statistics have shown that out of a fleet of 1,267 buses, almost 450 don't ply each day owing to breakdowns, repair work or unavailability of spare parts.
In a sad state of affairs: The broken down buses parked at the Pune Station depot. Pics/Mohan Patil
Officials say that this causes the transport authority to lose an income of around Rs 9,000 per day. PMPML chief engineer Sunil Burse told mid-day, "It is true that more than 400 buses are kept off the road daily.
The reason behind this is the unavailability of the necessary spare parts to keep the buses going. This is why PMPML is running out of money. The list of required spare parts is given to our store department, but still we do not get most of the material."
He added that they also lacked the infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of buses. "Every fortnight, I call a meeting of all the engineers at our depots, and give them necessary instructions and guidelines to keep maximum number of buses on the road," said Burse.
However, commuter groups allege that it's not as simpleas it seems. They complain that buses are held back for the most trivial reasons.
Under repairs: PMPML buses queued for repair work at Pune depot
"Yesterday, at the Swargate workshop, three buses were completely repaired, but were kept back because of insufficient red oil paint to colour a part of the bus. Also, some buses are lying vacant just because the windows need to be changed," said Ashok Jagtap, vice president of the PMPML workers' union.
"Workers are taken to task for not completing the required work, whereas in reality the spare parts and other necessary equipment is not available.
Most of the work is outsourced at higher rates, in spite of this, yesterday, 471 PMPML-owned buses were withdrawn from services and out of the 782 buses on contact, rental or partnership basis, 653 were running. Preference is given to contract buses while our own buses suffer," added Jagtap.
President of commuter group, PMP Pravasi Manch, Jugal Rathi, said, "This is a big conspiracy to keep PMPML-owned buses off the road and all their officials are involved in it. The buses are purposely withdrawn since the contract rates have been hiked."
He went on to say that while contract buses were sent out on long routes, earning more money, PMPML buses ran only within city limits. "As a result, these buses get worn out faster.
There is no record showing the difference in the distances covered between PMPML and contract buses. The organisation is not suffering any loss and fake numbers are generated to attain more contract buses.
No substantial reasons are given for the hike of fares and all this ultimately affects the commuters," he concluded.
When mid-day asked PMPML officials about the allegations, they refused to comment.
Number of PMPML buses on contract, rental or partnership basis
Average amount PMPML earns on a monthly basis
Amount paid to contractor for every km driven
Amount PMPML loses for each bus off the road
Number of PMPML-owned buses
There are around 2,400 buses with the PMPML in which, 1,267 are PMPML-owned, 200 are on Public-Private Partnership basis, 377 on rental basis and 205 on contract.