A video circulating on social media showed an electric public transportation bus in Maharashtra, India, failing to climb up a hairpin turn on a hilly road near Sinhagad Fort.
The bus was operated by Indian state-run Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited and was ferrying regular passengers and tourists journeying from the city of Pune to the fort.
Footage of the incident shared by TV9 Marathi showed the vehicle’s engine exerting as much power as it could muster to help the bus do the climb.
However, despite the driver’s efforts to move the vehicle forward, the bus began reversing involuntarily, the video showed.
Sensing that the vehicle was inching backward, the passengers got off the bus.
With the vehicle weighing less without the passengers’ weight, the driver eventually managed to make it past the hairpin bend toward the video’s final minutes.
According to reporting from automobile blog CarToq, some of the travelers who had to get out had to walk to the fort on foot, since the electric bus could not bear the weight of all travelers.
Indian authorities banned private vehicles in areas near the fort on May 1, according to CarToq. The move was intended to preserve the area’s ecology.
On May 2, the PMPML announced that it would operate its entire bus fleet of 24 electric buses along the route on weekends to bring passengers to the site, the Times of India reported, citing a senior PMPML official.
However, the failure of some buses to climb certain hilly areas en route to the fort raised concerns.
“When the authorities decided to start the service, they should have been better prepared. If a bus rolls down because of overcrowding, it is a major safety concern for passengers. I will now rethink of my visit,” said Kothrud resident Dayanand Shirke.
After several incidents like the one captured in the video shared by TV9 Marathi, PMPML announced later that month that it would suspend its electric bus service.
Instead, PMPML would wait till it could procure smaller buses that can take on the hilly region, the Times of India reported.
“We need seven-metre e-buses for the service. The PMPML is in the process of procuring the buses and a tender has been floated for 300 such vehicles,” PMPL traffic manager Rajesh Roopnawar said.
“These buses are mainly to be used for the Pune Metro feeder service. Once they come, some of the new buses will resume operations to the fort,” Roopnawar said.
Earlier in June, PMPL hinted that the service could resume soon.
“We are now conducting repair works and barricading the … section, adding more buses, and constructing more charging stations, to provide the desired service,” traffic manager Dattatray Zende told Hindustan Times in early June.
“We will also conduct trial runs. The service will resume in the next couple of months,” Zende said.
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