PMPML bus breakdowns double in last four years

Apr 30, 2013, 01:41 IST | Vivek Sabnis

While the number of breakdowns registered per month was 416 in 2008, it rose to a whopping 1,048 in 2012

Statistics available with MiD DAY have revealed that in the last four years — from 2008 to 2012 — breakdowns experienced by the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses have increased by over two-fold.

Another one bites the dust: A PMPML bus parked on Moledina Road after it developed a technical snag. File pic

While the numbers of breakdowns registered in 2008 were 416 per month, it rose to a whopping 1,048 in 2012.  One of the major reasons for the staggering rise in breakdowns could be attributed to the 325 decade-old buses used by the PMPML in its existing fleet of 1,700 buses.

The passengers too have been complaining about the frequent breakdowns, which have been inconveniencing them greatly.  Digvijay Kulkarni, a resident of Dhayari on Sinhagad Road, said, “I experience a minimum of three breakdowns a month on the Dhayari-Swargate or the Dhayari- Shaniwarwada route.

Even my friends who prefer travelling by PMPML buses have observed that the breakdowns are more common in the city, especially on Tilak Road, Laxmi Road and Bajirao Road.”

Chinchwad resident Pratibha Deshpande expressed similar grievances.  “Buses plying on the long routes from the PMC bus terminus to Pimpri, Chinchwad, Bhosari, Akurdi and Nigdi should be checked before they embark on their respective journeys. Breakdowns are frequent in this kind of weather.

My husband and I have experienced at least five breakdowns in the past two months. In such cases passengers are asked to board another bus, forcing them to complete their journeys standing,” Deshpande said.

President of PMPML Pravasi Manch Jugal Rathi said, “The number of breakdowns have increased alarmingly and have become more frequent this summer. At present, about 40 breakdowns are being reported per day, which takes the tally to over 1,000 per month.

The problems persist even with the buses, whose maintenance job have been outsourced to a private company. Instead of operating CNG buses, the
public transport service is purchasing diesel-run vehicles, which add to the pollution.”

Chief Engineer for PMPML Mechanical Department Sunil Burse said, “Though the breakdown figures are true, there are myriad reasons that one must consider, including the number of buses and inadequate mechanical staff to maintain the fleet.

We had a total of 1,089 mechanics managing 416 buses in January 2008. But today only 1,230 people look after 1,700 buses. As per CIRT directives, one and a half mechanical staff (technically) is a must for one bus.

We had put up a proposal of hiring 200 Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI) pass holders. Besides, the PMPML also lacks 10 automobile engineers to tackle the issue.

To tackle breakdowns, we replaced the traditional hard rubber batteries with rechargeable ones and changed the old engines instead of scrapping the bus. This saved 50 per cent of the cost.”

PMPML’s reasons for glitches
> Unavailability of spare parts for CNG buses
> Inadequate sheltering of buses, many buses are parked on road as space at 10 PMPML depots is inadequate. Require depots at Hinjewadi, Wagholi, Sinhagad Road and Kondhawa
> High level of dust at Swargate Depot is causing mechanical faults leading to breakdowns
> To skip more trips, drivers can ‘create artificial breakdowns’ even in the new buses
> Double loading of passengers
> 325 buses are more than 10 years old 

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