Accusing the state transport department of favouring private bus operators, Punjab Roadways' employees say route and timings of buses are changed at will to suit a few private players owing allegiance to the ruling party.
Sources said the authorities have stopped Punjab Roadways bus service on profitable routes from Ludhiana to Abohar, Sriganganagar, Jaiton, Jeevan Nagar and Dabwali so that private companies can run there buses on these routes. The transport department's move exposes its inability to function freely without the interference of powerful politicians, said sources.
Requesting anonymity, a transport department official said: "The transport policy in state are framed to favour a few private players in the transport business. All six routes on which the Punjab Roadways has stopped its bus service have been allocated to Orbit Aviation owned by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal."
"The transport department employees are not rendering services to the government, but to the politicians of the ruling party," he alleged.
"At present 127 Punjab Roadways buses are running on different routes from the Ludhiana depot and the government is earning revenue of `15,000 per day as road tax, but many roadways buses are not running on the allocated routes as shown on papers," he said.
Allocation of routes and frequent changes in the timings of buses to suit the private operators is a common practice followed by transport officials. There are a number of private buses in the state which do not possess the permit to run on certain routes, but the authorities have turned a blind eye to it," added the official.
General manager of Punjab Roadways, Ludhiana depot, Rashpal Singh Makhu said: "Many roadways buses are in a bad shape and are no fit to ply. There is an acute shortage of buses as of now. The transport department is in the process of adding 200 new buses in the roadways fleet after which we will be able to resume bus service on all stalled routes."
Director, state transport, Malvinder Singh said: "I am not aware of discontinuation of roadways buses on certain routes. The matter will be taken up with the general manager concerned in the next periodical meeting. We will resume bus services on the profitable routes, if any."