The transport authorities in Punjab are all out to favour the buses owned by the Badal family under the names of Orbit Aviation Private Limited, Dabwali Transport Company Limited and Taj Transport Company. The authorities have allotted additional halt time to buses of these companies at various bus stands across the state.
A scrutiny of bus timetable on the Bathinda-Barnala, Patiala-Sangrur, Ludhiana-Barnala and Moga-Jalandhar routes revealed that there was a huge gap in the halt time allotted to buses owned by the Badals and the state-owned buses. Moreover, buses of these companies have been allotted prime time on profitable routes.
The timetable revealed that the Orbit buses were allowed to halt at a bus stand for eight to 15 minutes against four to five minutes given to the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) buses.
The Badal-owned buses running on the Bathinda-Jalandhar route are allotted a halt time of 15 minutes at the Bathinda bus stand (5.13am to 5.28am) whereas only four minutes have been allotted to the next PRTC bus (from (5.28am to 5.32am). Even the buses belonging to other private operators are given less halt time at the bus stand.
Things are no different on the Patiala-Sangrur route where an Orbit bus is allowed to halt for 11 minutes (7.30am to 7.41am) as against eight minutes to a PRTC bus (7.41am to 7.49 am).
Preference is also given to Badal-owned buses on the Ludhiana-Barnala and Moga-Jalandhar routes.
TIMETABLE CHANGED ‘POLITICALLY’
During the scrutiny, it was found that the bus timetable was changed due to “political influence”. A politically-connected transport company —A2Z — got the prime time within minutes as a notice to transfer permit to A2Z was issued to Patarsi Bus Highways Service Registered, Patiala, on June 8, 2013. Harmail Singh, regional transport authority, Patiala, said the A2Z Transport got the time which was allotted to Patarsi Bus Highways Service.
‘NO POLICY ON TIMETABLE’
Additional state transport commissioner and regional transport authority, Patiala, Harmail Singh said there was no policy for the bus timetable and even the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, has no mention of it. “A joint timetable is drafted by major players and is approved by the regional transport authority before it is cleared by the PRTC and the Punjab Roadways authorities, he said, adding that no fresh timetable had been drafted for the past two-three years as a case regarding granting permit was pending in the Supreme Court.
General secretary of the PRTC Workers’ Union Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal said the bus timetable had been prepared to favour the Badals. “The Badal-owned buses are making profit at the cost of the state-run buses,” he said.
The timetable has been drafted in a way that all PRTC and Punjab Roadways buses run a few minutes after of the Badal-owned buses leave the bus stand, leaving no passengers for state-run buses, said state president of the PRTC Contract Workers’ Union (Azad) Jasmaher Singh.