HRTC was the first state in North India and the one of the very few in India to introduce Volvo services from Delhi to Manali and Shimla which immediately gained popularity as many tourists opted for HRTC Volvo’s over private operators.
But now as it seems, HRTC has become money-minded and paying less attention (or negligible) to condition of luxury buses. Passengers of Hamirpur-Delhi & Shimla-Delhi (8:30 am & 9 pm) Volvo bus have been witnessing this for as long as 2 years.
In just six months the buses on Hamirpur-Delhi route have broke down as many as twelve times. In one of these incidents, the bus broke down near Bhota and it took two hours to re-start the bus but the bus again broke down near Bangana at twelve in the mid-night. Then an ordinary bus from Una depot was called and passengers reached Delhi at 10 am instead of 5 am. And just recently the bus broke down near Zirakpur in chilling weather and the passengers who had paid thousand rupees for a Volvo ticket, were made to travel in an ordinary, which reached Hamirpur at 11 am. The buses have non-working TV’s and charging ports non-reclining seats.
This old Volvo fleet of HRTC is at least seven years old and in some buses sheets of tin has replaced glasses. The worst part is while the private operators are plying buses which have TV’s for individual seats along with blankets and leg-rests for a fare less than HRTC but HRTC is plying these 7-year old Khatara’s which will breakdown anywhere between the journey.
On last Thursday, Delhi-Shimla Volvo (HP 63 2817) broke down near Delhi bye-pass while the staff was as helpless for passengers and tourists who were waiting in the cold night for another bus to come. From radiator bursting to engine failures, these buses have experienced it all. Safety was considered as the main aspect of HRTC but looking at the number of HRTC accidents this year, that aspect seems to have got lost.
When is the management going to wake up? Are they taking no action on the buses that are breaking down on one week after another?
If they can take buses on lease for all other routes why not for Delhi-Shimla and Delhi-Hamirpur route. Commuters on these routes have to shell out approximately thousand rupees for traveling in AC-Deluxe class and without a surety of reaching their destinations in time.
Leave the comfort, the behavior of staff members in these buses have now reached new heights. They seem to be doing favors for passengers by letting us travel in these vehicles, they think are owned by ‘them’. They play Punjabi/regional movies, which many cannot understand and refuse to distribute water bottles.
On being asked for a bottle, they will ask you to come and take from the front. Seat number three is always reserved for a conductor where he will sleep after removing his shoes and pulling on his blanket (Ref: Delhi-Dharamshala VOLVO, 23rd Sep. and Dharamshala-Delhi VOLVO, 26th Sep.)
Coming to Star buses, which were purchased after taking a loan of many crores what good is such a deal if it is costing lives of people. HRTC drivers are not skilled enough to drive these buses and there has been at-least fifty plus minor/major accidents involving Star buses causing deaths of hundreds of people while the HRTC managements has chosen to blame either the road conditions or fog for such misshapenness.
Even in terms of comfort, the seats are so hard & straight that it gives one good back pains even after three hours of journey. The AC and Deluxe buses that were purchased eight years ago are still plying on AC-Deluxe and Deluxe fares. (Delhi-Shimla AC 8:24 pm and Shimla-Dehradun. Shimla-Dharamshala Deluxe buses that do not even have a single feature to classify them as Deluxe).
Since HRTC is the sole mode of passenger transport, they know well how to cash the helplessness of people. Comfort, Safety and now Staff behavior- HRTC has now lost it all.