CITIZENS FOR THE CITY – 10 lakh riders keep faith in PMPML

Public Transport Utility On A Rocky Road For Years | Politicians Do Little To Keep It Going

In the last five years, elected members have been targeting the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) for its pathetic service. They have been pushing for scrapping it and insisting on metro and mono rails to replace the buses.At the same time, groups of citizens have been doing much to keep the public transport going since no corporator uses the service but at least 10 lakh commuters travel daily by bus.

Cities across the world are moving towards public transport and strengthening their bus services, but the elected members in Pune want to reverse the trend.

The PMPML has become an albatross around the necks of corporators who say that the buses create traffic congestion on the roads and the utility is financially unviable.

In 2014, the general body of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) approved a resolution to demerge PMPML which was formed to achieve integrated public transport service for commuters in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. Corporators from Pune have been demanding a demerger as the transport body grapples with financial constraints that are compounded by gross mismanagement. They want the PMPML to be diluted and reconstituted as separate transport undertakings so that the public transport system can be managed better.

The PMPML gets financial aid from the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporations. The corporations have been asked by the state government to share the annual financial losses of the PMPML, which would help it sustain its public transport services. However, all party corporators are unhappy with the state’s decision and want to get rid of the public transport.

Every proposal to sanction money for the buses and the PMPML has got stuck in the civic corridors, but citizens have fought on for a public transport.

Arwind Wakad, 26, a resi dent of Pimpri, set aside important work to be at a PMPML workshop last week at the auto cluster exhibition hall in Pimpri Chinchwad.

His demand from the transport body was that PMPML start Wi-Fi services at bus stands and depots to attract youngsters to use buses for public transport. PMPML officials were surprised by the turn out of people in their workshops aimed at developing a business plan for the utility in the future.

All these years, it had no business plan, but citizens and groups like Parisar, PMP Pravasi Manch, Nagrik Chetana Manch and some others pursued the matter for years till finally the civic administration and politicians started the process to prepare one for the PMPML.

“This is a unique step. For the first time, the PMPML will have a business plan which will help the utility to run its servi ce efficiently. Instead of discussing how to kill the public transport, we need to think how to save it and make it better. Only public transport will save city from congestion and pollution,“ Sujit Patwardhan of Parisar organization said. With the citizens’ initiative, the participatory process to prepare a business plan has started and citizens are coming up with suggestions.The plan is expected to be ready soon.

“We are overwhelmed by the response and expect more of this in future too. We have been organizing some workshops and common people are engaged in this. We are asking them to spare time and express what they expect and need from PMPML. The buses we run are for the people and we want their direct com ments, suggestions and demands. One must say that we didn’t expect this kind of a response. This shows that the people are willing to participate in making the services of the PMPML better,“ DP More, joint managing director of the transport body , told TOI.

If people are taking active part in the activities of the PMPML, the PMP Pravasi Manch has been doing it for some time now. It comprises people who use bus services regularly . The group has been holding campaigns, programmes, and meetings to make the PMPML officials understand their responsibilities and get going. Yatish Devadiga, a member of the manch, said, “Our group consists of people who are regulars when it comes to commuting by public buses. Around two years ago, we had started a complaints’ campaign and all the members had to file one or two complaints on a daily basis about a bus or buses. The campaign was successful and it drew the attention of the PMPML authorities. The officials then started to notice the problems and took initiatives to solve them. We had designed their old website for free.However, things are no longer the same with the PMPML officials not paying much attention to our views and suggestions. But we are trying to bring about a positive change in the PMPML,“ Devadiga said.

Notwithstanding such initiatives to improve the PMPML service, elected members have created hurdles in BRTS project. The PMC has been struggling to complete the 16km project outside the city’s limits and the future of another 100km BRTS running through the central areas hangs in balance.

Corporators discussed and debated the tenders of the buses and the price range with great interest in the standing committee and general body meetings.

Activist Prashant Inamdar said the city’s public transport continues to be poor because the implementing authorities are not taking it seriously .

“If public services are put to their best utility the number of two-wheeler users and private vehicles is bound to reduce. Introducing maximum buses in good condition and improving frequency should be the first steps. There should be some regulatory mechanism wherein the services should improve and the people working for PMPML should get their salary based on the services delivered and not just ply an empty bus and still get their payment,“ he said.

(With inputs from Radheshyam Jadhav, Nisha Nambiar, Joy Sengupta & Manish Umbrajkar)

Source : TOI