There is good news for commuters on intercity routes who hate travelling on the Maharashtra State Road Transport’s (MSRTC) ordinary or semi-luxury buses, and cannot afford ultra-luxury AC buses such as Volvo, Mercedes or Scannia.
The MSRTC plans to launch 500 new AC buses named Shivshahi on routes such as Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Nashik and Pune-Nashik early next year to bridge this gap. Its fare, approved by the State Transport Authority (STA), is less compared to other buses.
“The STA — chaired by transport secretary Sudhir Srivastava — has approved a basic fare of Rs13 every 6km,” said a transport department official, requesting anonymity. The per-stage fares for existing ultra-luxury AC buses in MSRTC’s fleet is Rs15.80.
MSRTC’s announcement is aimed at ensuring that passengers can avail of affordable and comfortable rides.
The pet project of transport minister Diwakar Raote — who is also the MSRTC’s chairman — Shivshahi buses will have modern amenities such as WiFi, CCTV cameras, reading lights, a nine-inch TV screen for each passenger and mobile and laptop charging points.
With around 18,000 vehicles, the MSRTC is the largest public transport undertaking in the country, ferrying over 60 lakh passengers across the state daily. It has a fleet of more than 100 sky-blue ultra-luxury AC- buses called ‘Shivneri ‘ and ‘Ashwamedh’.
Currently, passengers shell out Rs420 on the Dadar-Pune route on Shivneri buses, which are mostly Volvo , Scannia or Mercedes models, said MSRTC sources.
However, the STA-approved fare for sleeper coach in Shivshahi buses is around Rs3 more that of sleeper coaches in other MSRTC buses.
The MSRTC showcased Shivshahi buses for the first time on the birth anniversary of Shiv Sena founder, Balasaheb Thackeray this year. The STA approved a saffron-white colour scheme for the buses.