PMPML bus service to remain shut as new COVID restrictions for Pune kick in

PMC will be asking the PMPML to run their buses on certain routes to facilitate the travel of essential workers.

Credit : Prathmesh Patil (Indie Journal)

Pune: As part of the new COVID restrictions in Pune from April 3rd, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) bus service will also be shut in Pune for the next seven days. While the PMPML has not yet received any request to run the buses for those in essential services, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will be asking the PMPML to run their buses on certain routes to facilitate the travel of essential workers.

“The buses have been identified by the administration as the easily available and most affordable mode of transport. It has been observed that many people are using buses to travel unnecessarily as well, which needs to be avoided considering the worsening situation of the pandemic in Pune,” PMPML Joint Managing Director Dr Chatana Kerure said.

While Kerure said that the bus service will be closed for all, PMC Additional Commissioner Rubal Agarwal told Indie Journal that the Municipal Corporation was in the process of finalising specific routes for buses to be functional on. “Many essential workers depend on the bus services, so we will make some provision for them. The orders regarding the restrictions have just come out. We need time to finalise routes and convey our requirements to the PMPML,” she added.

PMPML bus service was shut for several months during the lockdown in 2020 as well. While the buses were operational on certain routes for essential workers, many had expressed difficulties due to the availability of limited routes and timings.

“Last year, when the lockdown began, the waste pickers had a tough time figuring out on which routes the buses were functional as well as coordinating with the PMC and police. Even this time, we predict that there will be some difficulties initially, as most of the waste pickers travel in buses. However, we are writing to the PMC as well as the PMPML to ensure that the waste pickers, as well as other sanitation workers, are considered essential workers and allowed to travel in buses so that the waste collection in the city remains least affected,” said Harshad Barde of SWaCH, cooperative of self-employed waste collectors.

After offering limited services during the lockdown, the PMPML bus service in Pune resumed in September last year, initially at 50 percent capacity. The bus service struggled to recover from the losses incurred during the lockdown until a couple of months ago as people were still fearful of using public transport. Schools and colleges mostly remained shut even after unlocking and many companies continued work from home culture. Just as the service began to bounce back in the city, the number of COVID cases began to rise in Pune since the end of February in a second wave.

“PMPML will be affected, but controlling the pandemic is what holds the maximum importance right now. They have stated that shutting down bus service for all might refrain people from travelling and gathering in large numbers. So that is our priority as well now,” Kerure said.

Night curfew has been imposed in Pune from 6 pm to 6 am starting tomorrow. Along with the bus service, restaurants, bars, malls, cinema halls, weekly markets, religious places in the city will also remain shut over the next seven days. Only 50 people will be allowed at wedding ceremonies and 20 at funerals.