52 PMPML buses, launched on Nov 1, ordered to go off the road

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December has come as a rude shock for commuters who travel by Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses. Over 300 buses developed snags en route in a span of six days, inconveniencing commuters, especially office-goers and college students, while on the other hand, on December 1, the PMPML administration decided to cancel 52 buses that make 300 trips.

The directive came into effect in four days. These 52 buses were part of a fleet of 115 buses that was launched by PMPML on November 1 in a bid, what officials claimed, to provide efficient public transport service and discourage use of personal vehicles. "These 115 buses were supposed to make over 1,200 trips daily. However, 52 of the buses have been cancelled which means 300 trips will be reduced now," said PMPML traffic manager Sunil Gawli.

The 52 buses were making trips on routes that were planned for BRTS. These buses were plying every 5 minutes. "The initiative was aimed at increasing the frequency of buses," he said.

However, Gawli said the bus service received extremely poor response. "There was no point running these buses where there was poor response as it meant loss for the transport undertaking. Buses were running empty for long distance. So we decided to cancel the buses. However, rest of the buses which started on November 1 would continue to ply. They would make 900 trips," he said. Senior PMPML officials will have to do a rethink even on the remaining buses as many of them were running empty. The officials said actually over 52 buses have been cancelled. But Gawli said he did not have information about them.

Jugal Rathi, convenor of PMP Pravasi Manch, said, "The plan seemed faulty. If you promise buses every five minutes to 10 minutes, you have to create awareness among the commuters so that they can reschedule their routine. If the plan has failed in barely one month, PMPML is to be blamed as it failed to reach commuters."

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