Monday, May 17, 2010

Alert bus conductor saved 44 lives

Alertness shown by a woman bus conductor saved the lives of 44 passengers on the MSRTC’s King Long bus, which caught fire on Airoli bridge on Saturday night.
As the bus was speeding down the round around 8.30 pm, conductor Sheetal Chimote saw smoke coming out of the rear of the vehicle and she signalled the driver, Riyaz Shaikh, to stop. “She yelled and the driver brought the bus to a screeching halt,’’ said an MSRTC official. “She then rushed all passengers out and at the same time, ensured that their luggage was taken out of the hold. Asking the passengers to stand at a distance, Shaikh went to the back to inspect what exactly had happened and found out that the bus had caught fire.’’ Within minutes, the entire bus was engulfed in flames.
“Had the conductor delayed for a few more minutes, the passengers would have been charred to death. We really appreciate her presence of mind when she noticed the smoke,’’ a senior MSRTC officer said, adding that the department planned to felicitate Chimote.
The Airoli police, who are inquiring into the accident, have taken down Chimote’s statement. According to her, the bus had left Pune depot at 4.30 pm and was scheduled to reach Thane by 9 pm. “Almost all the passengers were supposed to get down at the last stop,’’ Chimote said.
The MSRTC, too, has deployed its technical team to ascertain the cause of the fire. Preliminary inquiry revealed that short circuit had caused the blaze, but a final report will be presented before MSRTC vice-chairman and managing director Deepak Kapoor in a couple of days.
Following the incident, Kapoor ordered withdrawal of all 15 King Long buses from the road. However, because of the passenger rush on Sunday morning due to Akshaya Tritaya, the MSRTC ran a few of the vehicles to ferry commuters between Pune and Mumbai. “The buses were running packed on Sunday and passengers had reserved seats well in advance. But from Monday, we will not run King Longs anymore,’’ Kapoor said. He stated that the corporation would replace those buses with 10 brand new semi-luxury buses, which were procured from Goa recently.
“Those who have reserved seats on King Long buses for the next few weeks can travel by the new semiluxury buses. They will get a refund on the difference in fares and those wanting to cancel tickets can claim a full refund,’’ he said. Of the 15 King Longs, seven operated between Thane and Pune, while the remaining eight were on the Dadar-Pune route. The corporation recently bought 25 new semi-luxury buses from Goa of which 10 have replaced the King Longs.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ST drivers’ wives get gifts, cash for mishap-free rides

Mumbai: ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman’—the MSRTC has used this cliched saying to its advantage. In the past two years, 223 wives of state transport (ST) drivers were felicitated with sarees, gifts and cash for their husbands’ “accident-free’’ driving. The transport corporation claims that the scheme has brought down the number of accident cases to some extent.
“We had identified drivers who had a clean record of not being involved in accidents for several years. We not only gave them commendatory notes, but also honoured their wives with sarees, token gifts and Rs 7,000 for the family,’’ said a MSRTC spokesperson. He said the corporation’s initiative was such a hit with drivers that it sent a message to all ST drivers to drive carefully. “Who would not
want to get felicitated in the presence of family members? And who would not want his better half to be rewarded for his personal achievement?’’ the spokesperson said.
Statistics provided by MSRTC showed that in 2007-08, there were 3,450 accidents while the ST buses had covered

a distance of 179 crore km. The number of accidents came down to 3,220 while ST buses covered more distance of 181 crore km in 2008-09. Of the total number of accidents, the number of major accidents was 2,363 in 2007-08 and this dropped to 1,977 cases in 2008-09. The average number of major accidents per year prior to 2007 had never fallen below the 2,000-mark. “The corporation
also had to pay Rs 2 crore less in compensation to accident victims in 2008-09 as compared to the previous year,’’ an ST official said.
The number of passengers ferried were 224 crore in 2007-08 which rose to 240 crore passengers in 2008-09. “The safety of our passengers is very important. We are also conducting sensitisation programmes for drivers, urging them not to drive rashly even if there is no vehicle in sight. We also train our drivers to maintain road discipline and not to misbehave with any passenger,’’ the spokesperson stated.
The ST’s toll-free helpline (1800-22-1250), introduced in the recent past, has also helped passengers get emergency medical aid in case of accidents. “Our control room informs the nearby hospital and arranges for emergency treatment,’’ said a senior official.
published in Times of India

MSRTC to roll out AC sleeper buses on long-distance routes

Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC)—whose fleet has evolved from the red-and-yellow ordinary ST buses to hi-tech ones including 88 AC Volvo services—now plans to introduce sleeper air-conditioned (AC) coaches for long-distance routes.
Sources in the state transport body said that plans were afoot to introduce the AC sleeper Volvos for Goa—a destination for which the MSRTC had received tremendous response recently.
“Last month, we launched the Volvo service with a seating capacity of 45 for the Mumbai-Panjim route. Our buses are nearly packed for all of May and only a handful of seats are available for the summer season,’’ said a senior MSRTC official, adding that there was a demand to introduce sleeper coaches on long-distance routes. “We would soon be including such buses in our fleet,’’ he said, while refusing to elaborate further.
Of the 88 services across the state, more than 50% of these hi-tech Volvo bus
es ply the Mumbai-Pune route. The MSRTC had recently launched new Volvo services on other routes such as Pune-Nanded, Pune-Jalgaon, Pune-Sangli and Pune-Kolhapur.
“We provide newspapers and drinking water in our Volvo buses. To ensure the safety of our passengers, we have been creating awareness about the dangers of accepting food or drinks from strangers during the journey or at scheduled halts,’’ the official said. “Our campaign has been successful. Of late, we haven’t come across cases of passengers
being administered stupefying drugs and robbed while travelling in our Volvos,” the official added.
Besides the Volvos, the corporation also wants to upgrade its “Parivartan” ordinary buses by providing more comfortable seats to passengers. At least five Parivartan buses are replacing the old ST buses daily. The new buses have single windshield, polyurethane seats with seating arrangement of 2X2 instead of the conventional 2X3, good leg space and polymer paint.
Published in Times of India