MSRTC, which is in the process of introducing 2,500 buses, is recruiting around 13,000 drivers and conductors
DO you find yourself waiting endlessly for a BEST bus while on your way to work? If so, be prepared for a longer wait in the days to come.
The BEST is facing a staff crunch with quite a few of its drivers and conductors slated to join the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), said a BEST official.
BEST faces staff shortage as quite a few of its drivers and conductors plan to join the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation
The MSRTC, which is in the process of introducing 2,500 buses, is recruiting around 13,000 drivers and conductors.
Already, almost one-third of buses which are part of the BEST*s fleet are parked idly in bus depots because of a staff shortage.
Not well paid?
"There are several problems that we face," said a driver who worked for the BEST for daily wages for nearly nine months. "We are also not paid properly. I quit BEST soon after I got the bonus."
Of the nearly 4,500 daily wagers, a driver is paid Rs 250 while a conductor is paid Rs 200 daily.
"We conducted written and oral exams, which were open to all. A few BEST employees may have taken the exam and even cleared them," said MSRTC*s Managing Director Deepak Kapoor.
"There is nothing more to it. It*s not like BEST drivers or conductors, as such, are joining MSRTC." The BEST has 4,700 buses and over 8,000 permanent drivers and conductors.
A BEST depot manager confirmed that the transport undertaking does face a staff crunch. "Because of staff shortage, nearly 35 per cent of our buses are not being driven out of depots since nearly a week.
A few drivers and conductors have retired, and the new staff are not paid well which makes them look for greener pastures," he said.
BEST General Manager Om Prakash Gupta, however, denied any exodus. "This is not true. Normally, during the festive season, the passenger load increases and, sometimes, we have a crunch of buses. To my knowledge, none of the drivers or conductors has left BEST," Gupta said.
As per rule, almost 96 per cent of the BEST buses should ply the streets.
"We are short of staff and most of the drivers and conductors have not reported on duty since a few days," said a BEST official. "We are also trying to recruit people in the junior grade but the process does take time."
Recently, 500 BEST drivers and conductors from various depots underwent medical tests for 3 days. Over 200 of them were found to be suffering from hypertension but were not aware of it.
On the job
MSRTC officials said they would appoint around 15,000 staff, including drivers, conductors, 47 inspectors and traffic controllers, 345 technicians/ mechanics and around 607 assistant inspectors and transport guards for which the Transport Minister has given his approval.
MSRTC plans to create an infrastructure for training its drivers. An official from MSRTC said they had sought land in various places like Thane, Turbhe, Panvel, u00a0Raigad etc.
At present, MSRTC has a fleet of around 16,000 buses which ferry over 70 lakh passengers daily. On July 4 this year, MSRTC had conducted a written exam in Mumbai and other districts across the state.