#puneonmymind: CMD of PMPML on what its ambitious vision to improve Pune’s public transport is
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#puneonmymind: CMD of PMPML on what its ambitious vision to improve Pune’s public transport is

Extensive efforts are being made to improve and upgrade our fleet. As of now we have 1,450 buses on road. However, these are about 7 to 8 years old and need good maintenance. We are making all-out efforts to spruce up our existing systems and minimise breakdown and increase efficiency, says Nayana Gunde, CMD, PMPML.

pune Updated: Jul 21, 2018 15:34 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune

Pune has always caught the attention of all on many fronts. Recognised as one of the fastest growing cities of Maharashtra, it is growing and expanding rapidly in all areas, including industry, IT, education, healthcare, service sector and residential localities. One of the basic things that a growing city needs to cope with its communication needs is a transport network. This intra-city network of transport has to be efficient and convenient. This is what Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) aims for. PMPML is one of the organisations that directly relates to the public and works with a large staff. However, there are many challenges as PMPML tries to keep up with its aim and motto of providing regular, efficient and convenient public transport to all. One of the biggest challenges Pune faces today is the rising number of vehicles on the roads. This not only causes traffic congestion but also increases travel time and fatigue and badly affects the air quality due to pollution. If the load of private vehicles on the roads is to be reduced, one of the solutions is to provide good public mass transport systems.

The Central institute of road transport (CIRT) in a report 10 years ago, noted that a population of 1 lakh requires about 50 buses. By this ratio, we need a minimum of 3,000 buses on the roads in Pune. Our shortfall is a good 50%.

The solution is to buy new buses. The other way to improve the existing bus network is to have buses running in good condition, plying regularly with availability in all areas and giving a comfortable ride to commuters.

As far as buying new buses is concerned, at PMPML we are making efforts to procure 400 CNG buses in about 5 - 6 months, the tenders for which have been floated. In line are also 500 electric buses to be procured in two phases in the near future. 150 buses are to be bought in the first phase and 350 in the second. Electric buses run on newer technology and except for a few trials, an electric bus fleet has not been pressed into service anywhere in the country. We are open to this new option which is environmentally friendly and aimed at giving better rides and ease of commuting in the city.

In terms of the existing fleet, extensive efforts are being made to improve and upgrade the buses. As of now, we have 1,450 buses on road. However, these are about 7 to 8 years old and need good maintenance. We are making all-out efforts to spruce up our existing systems and minimise breakdowns and increase efficiency. We have for the first time started regular training in effective maintenance systems. We are tying up with private institutions to train our staff to reduce wastage of man hours and material, to increase the efficiency of employees, impart good driving skills and thereby increase the bus mileage. These are year-long training programmes in different aspects.

PMPML is also trying to meet the commuting needs of different sections of the citizenry. On March 8, 2018, we launched the Tejaswini bus service dedicated solely to women commuters. In a city like Pune women commuting to work by bus is quite high. We had to ensure that women had safe and easy rides to workplaces and back. For this, the Tejaswini bus service has 26 buses plying on 9 routes and in the near future we will be increasing their number to 32 buses and include more routes.

These are ‘midi buses’ - 9 metres in length and are fitted with two CCTV cameras to ensure safety of the women commuters. The bus has the integrated transport management system (ITMS) which is connected to the command control centre in our head office. With this, the buses can be tracked and their speed, breakdown and emergencies can also be checked. These buses have digital displays. This service has received a very good response and we plan to start more such buses soon.

In fact, looking at this service, some senior citizen groups had approached us demanding a dedicated bus service for them. We will be happy to do so, but this request can be considered only after a proper study and availability of buses.

There are some IT initiatives which have been taken up to improve bus operations. ‘PMPML e connect’ is the official portal of the company. This is for public interface and provides information on routes, timings, schedules, etc. People can also register their complaints and seek grievance redressal.

PMPML has also introduced automatic fare collection system with the help of Central Bank of India where we get real time data on revenue collection. This data is collected under the bus/depot/route parameters and helps us in analysis, planning and implementation.

An ‘MI card’ which is a smart card for inter-operable public transport use has also been introduced. Six more modules through IT will be launched soon.

The PMPML is also working on procurement of land. As the fleet strength will increase soon, we will need land for parking, fuelling and maintenance. Huge efforts are being made in this direction and we have approached Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations, Pimpri Chinchwad new township development authority (PCNTDA) and Pune metropolitan region development authority (PMRDA). We have received a good response to our proposals and land is being reserved for PMPML in the development plans.

I do believe that the problems arising out of thick vehicular density on the roads in Pune will lessen if we are able to provide a regular, efficient and convenient public transport system. In the present situation, not only has the travel time increased but research indicates that worsening road traffic impacts the efficiency of citizens, irritability and rising pollution concerns. PMPML’s aim is to be efficient in all ways and thereby contribute to improve the quality of life in this city.

First Published: Jul 21, 2018 15:20 IST