February 21, 2017 5:54:41 am
Office-goers and students had a tough time reaching their destinations on Monday morning, as half of the PMPML buses remained off the roads for the first half of the day. The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has deputed as many as 805 buses for election duty for Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal bodies’ polls.
Although PMPML had provided buses for most routes, the frequency had come down drastically. Besides, the buses plying the roads on Monday morning were mostly old and dilapidated, causing discomfort to the occupants. Most of the buses plied to full capacity with office-goers and students.
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However, the buses deputed for election returned in the afternoon shift and the public transport situation normalised.
On Tuesday, election day, bus services will remain normal in morning and afternoon and will only be affected post 5 pm, when the buses will head to the polling booths to ferry the staffers and EVMs to designated centres. PMPML commuters will be in for a tough time on February 20 and 21, when as many as 818 buses from its fleet will be off the roads as they will be deployed on election duty.
“The election officials have sought 818 buses from the transport utility for election deployment. We have provided them 805 buses on Monday morning. They transported the staffers and voting material to the polling booths. The buses re-joined the service in the afternoon shift,” said Anant Waghmare, general manager (operations).
Waghmare said, as it was mandatory for the transport body to depute the buses, the management made sure to bring on roads more buses than usual so that passengers have to suffer minimal inconvenience.
“On an average, about 1,400 buses are on roads. Since we had to give away 800, we made sure that about 300 buses, which had remained off the roads due to disrepair for a month or more, are put to service. Thus, despite the election duty engagement, as many as 889 buses were on the roads in the morning,” said Waghmare.
On Tuesday, the day of polling, all 1,600 odd buses will be on the roads, said officials. Meanwhile, activists have slammed the PMPML for causing inconvenience to the residents. They suggested that private buses or vehicles of government functionaries, which were confiscated during the model code of conduct, could have been assigned for election duty.
“The PMPML’s decision to provide a majority of their buses for election duty hasn’t come from their concern for national duty, but the 10,000 per bus fare that the PMC and PCMC will pay to the transport body for the service. PMPML will earn, while the public will suffer the harassment meted out by rickshaw drivers and taxi service providers,” said Jugal Rathi of Sajag Nagrik Manch.
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