On November 25, 48 Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses broke down while ferrying commuters. On November 26, this number was 63. Since last December, Newsline has been regularly highlighting this problem. But the PMPML administration, which has been struggling to set things right, has not been able to do much instead of just offering excuses for the problem.
In March and April, 2012, as many as 9,645 buses developed snags on their daily routes. In December, 2011, January, 2012 and February, 2012, collectively 13,000 buses broke down. Now, the PMPML has been fighting shy of providing figures break down in the last six months .
PMPML chief engineer Sunil Burse said in the last two days buses broke down due to flat tyres and mechanical faults. “These are two major reasons for frequent break down of buses... The problem of tyre punctures is not in our hand as it can happen to any vehicle at anytime, but we are aware about the mechanical failures,” he said.
Burse said since the buses operate for short distances, such breakdowns are bound to occur. “Blame it on city traffic. Buses operate for short distances because of frequent traffic jams and bus stops at short distances. As this kind of operation puts heavy pressure on the bus, its parts are strained and develop problems,” he said.
Burse said availability of spare parts is their priority, but due to various problems this demand is not met. “The PMPML also has to look after its financial position. Besides, there are at least four departments involved in ensuring availability of spare parts. Therefore, the entire process takes time which means our demand for availability of spare parts on time is not fulfilled, especially during preventive maintenance,” he said.
However, Prashant Inamdar, convenor of Pedestrains First, an organisation that takes up city’s transport problems, said, “If buses break down in such large numbers, as reported by Newsline, the PMPML administration should find out whether the buses they purchase are of standard specification and design. We suspect the PMPML administration could be compromising on specifications and designs. It should reveal the true story,” he said.
Pointing out that cities like Mumbai and Bangalore are running their services efficiently, Inamdar said, “If buses break down during short distance trips, this should happen in Mumbai and Bangalore too which is not the case. The PMPML should take a clue from them.”
While purchasing buses did PMPML ask for buses required for short distance city service, questioned Inamdar. “Ideally, new buses should not break down for three years. The PMPML should explain how so many new buses are breaking down. If new buses which do not require maintenance are breaking down, then it is serious problem.”
He said another key factor was whether drivers were being given proper training. He added, “Even new tyres don’t go flat. Only when they become old or if roads are bad, buses have flat tyres.”