February 23, 2015 1:47:06 am
With 119 ordinary buses of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) being scrapped by March-end for having completed 15 years on road, commuters who travel on these buses daily are likely to face inconvenience. The replacement for these buses will only be purchased in 2016.
According to a BEST spokesperson, “There is no requirement for more buses this year and the existing fleet will be sufficient to meet the needs of bus commuters. Some of the buses, which are under maintenance, will be put to service.”
Approximately 40 lakh passengers travel on BEST buses daily, which has a fleet of 4,228 buses with 94 per cent buses on road. Out of the 284 AC buses, only 162 buses are operational while the rest are under maintenance.
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“The replacement for the 119 buses will be purchased in 2016 as 180 more buses would have beenscrapped by then. Some changes in the existing routes might be required because of this, which we will look into. We will try and maximise full efficiency of the existing fleet,” added the spokesperson.
The budget of the transport wing of BEST for 2015-16 is Rs 2,800 crore and it faces a deficit of Rs 777 crore. The lack of funds is also one of the reasons for delay in purchasing new buses, said sources.
In fact, the cash-strapped BEST revised its fare structure recently. The minimum fare for ordinary and limited buses is Rs 7, instead of the existing Rs 6. For air-conditioned buses, the minimum fare is Rs 25, instead of Rs 20.
This hike ranging from Rs 1-10, depending on the distance travelled, is already in place. The fare hike, for loss-making BEST, was unavoidable after its parent body, the BMC, denied to give it a subsidy of Rs 150 crore . “We are trying to carry out studies and inviting suggestions on how to cut down our operational cost by route rationalisation and improve potential for revenue earning,” said an official.
The BEST, which is incurring huge losses running its fleet of air-conditioned buses, had recently decided to curtail at least three to four routes from this month onwards as they were loss-making and there was no good response from commuters throughout the day.
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