The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has decided to withdraw the free Wi-Fi service it offered on its buses.
“The project had been developed under a build-operate-transfer (BoT) model, but the operator has now intimated us that it is not getting any advertisements and, therefore, is facing losses. The Wi-Fi facility is present in practically all the MSRTC buses, but with the operator saying that it cannot run the service further, it will be stopped,” a senior MSRTC official told TOI.
Sources said the Wi-Fi service was started in 2016 and close to 1,200 buses have it. “In Pune, there are close to 600 buses that have the wifi facility. Another reason for shutting the service down is the fact that we are replacing the old red buses with new ones,” another official said. “It was a free service, and while we understand that many passengers will not be happy with its discontinuation, we don’t have a choice. However, the matter is being seriously looked into and we expect the service to resume in the near future. But for now, it is being suspended in a phased manner,” he said.
Ravi Mankar, who often travels to Mumbai on MSRTC buses, said the transport body needs to find a way around the problem. “Though most people with smartphones have internet connectivity, such services are important and should not be removed. The wifi service enables passengers to access the internet for free. I travel to Mumbai by train too and see many people, especially youngsters, come to the Pune station just to use its free Wi-Fi . They download the heavy filed for free,” he said.