The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation plans to deploy 1,000 non-air conditioned sleeper buses to replace conventional ones used currently for its overnight services, an official said.
He said that these non-AC sleeper buses, with a capacity of 30 passengers, will undergo a set of trials at the Pune-based Central Institute for Road Transport following which, depending on the test results, they would be commissioned.
He said that most of these buses are expected to join the state-run undertaking’s fleet by the end of this year.
“The purpose of non-AC sleeper coaches is mainly to replace the existing overnight bus services that are more economical and cater to a large number of passengers. These buses will also run between towns and rural areas,” the official said.
The non-AC sleeper coaches will focus on connecting villages with major cities since people prefer to travel to these urban centres overnight to complete work during the day, the MSRTC official said.
The MSRTC has undertaken modification of its coach building factories across Maharashtra so that more comfortable options can be offered to passengers, the official said.
Speaking about the proposed fare structure for these non-AC sleeper buses, the official said that several options are being explored.
“MSRTC is exploring whether or not the current fare structure can be used for these buses. If the buses are well received, then there will be less chances of hiking the price of tickets because a higher volume of passengers will help bring in more income,” the official said.
The MSRTC has been criticised earlier for not providing sleeper coaches.
The MSRTC operates a range of AC sleeper buses under the brand name “Shivshahi”, to compete with private fleet operators, and they run on routes connecting most major cities of the state.