Running a bus service with rundown vehicles

Mar 19, 2013, 07:30 IST | Sukirt D. Gumaste

More than 500 PMPML buses remain off roads on any given day, while hundreds of others break down every month

Low frequency in service owing to shortage of buses is considered the key conundrum for Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML).

However, MiD DAY has found that the transport body is failing miserably in optimally utilising available resources. Every month around 700-1,000 PMPML buses break down during a journey, and 500 of them have to stay off the roads every day because of maintenance issues. The transport body has a total of 1,851 of these vehicles at its disposal.

One more down: A broken down PMPML bus parked on the side of the road. File pic

Breakdown is a routine phenomenon that commuters have to put up with. Every day, 30 to 40 buses on various routes stop running because of a punctured tyre, brakes failing or other internal engine problems. “There should be adequate infrastructure, equipment and manpower for the maintenance of these buses. Drivers and mechanics are not getting spare parts on time, in the absence of which buses tend to remain off the roads for more than a week at times. Lack of manpower is the major reason. Currently, we only have 800 mechanics and workers for 1,800 buses, which is less than half the requirement. Ideally the ratio of mechanics and garage staff should be 1.25 per bus, which means five persons for four buses. Currently, the ratio is 0.7.

Buses cannot be maintained with so few workers,” said AN Anpur, secretary, PMPML workers union.

Deepaksingh Pardesh, PRO, PMPML, recently said that the organisation has recruited several conductors, and 195 mechanics will be hired in the next two months. A selection procedure has been initiated and many applications have been received.

“Breakdowns and hundreds of buses are being unable to ply directly affect the frequency of trips. PMPML management always complains about the number of buses, but they are not able to maintain the ones available. After complaining several times last year, PMPML had made provision of Rs 2 crore for spare parts. However, the management has not disclosed the audit report on the money, which we had demanded in last year. It is clear that they don’t want to improve the service. All these instances indicate that they are aiming for privatisation,” said Jugal Rathi, president, PMP Pravasi Manch.

As per norms of the Central Institute of Road Transportation (CIRT), buses that are 10 years old or have travelled more than seven lakh kilometers, should be scrapped to avoid heavy maintenance charges and for safety of the passengers. Currently, PMPML has about 200 buses that are at least ten years old.

Vital statistics
>> Total number of buses: 1,851

>> Total number of buses on the road: 1,313

>> Off-road buses: 538

>> Number of breakdowns in January 2012: 721

>> Number of breakdowns in January 2013: 955

>> Number of ten-year-old buses: 200 

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