Here is some bad news for public transport commuters.
The debt-ridden Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking wants a hike in the bus fares every time the fuel price is increased.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has already been practising this policy for the past several years. If implemented, the frequent hikes would affect at least 39 lakh city commuters.
BEST, which operates nearly 4,000 buses across the city and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), suffers huge losses every time there is a hike in fuel price hike.
The recent diesel and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) hike of Rs6 and 85 paise, respectively, has added a burden of Rs25crore and Rs30crore on the undertaking.
“We want to replicate the MSRTC model. The mayor [Sunil Prabhu] is also in favour of this policy. The proposal will come up for approval after the administration verifies the legalities. The BMC general body will sanction it for its application,” said Ashok Patil, BEST committee chairman.
The BEST transport wing is facing a Rs516.50-crore deficit. In 2011-12, the undertaking had spend around Rs380 crore on fuel (diesel and CNG) out of their overall expenditure of Rs1,724 crore. While its average monthly consumption for diesel is 27 lakh litre, for CNG it is 53 lakh kg.
Currently, the fare is decided on the basis of guidelines set by the Regional Transport Authority.
BEST suggests new fare in its annual budget, which then is approved by the BMC’s standing committee and general body. The new fare is implemented every year from April 1.
Justifying the move, Sunil Gancharya, BEST committee member, said, “Increasing fuel prices makes it difficult to operate the services at current rates. Therefore, it is necessary to have this new policy.”