Starting Wednesday, you can make calls from the first batch of telephone sets installed on BEST buses. Even international calls can be made.
The bus service wing of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking on Tuesday installed 75 public telephone sets on its buses to provide a facility that will be of great help to those who may not have mobile phones and need to make a call, especially during emergencies.
The 75 telephones installed is just the beginning, with the entire fleet of 3,400 BEST single and double-decker buses to eventually have them. While Hutch will install 1,774 telephone sets, Tata Indicom will install 1,626 phones.
Calls will cost Re 1 for 60 seconds within the city. Subscriber trunk dial (STD) calls to a landline anywhere outside the city will cost Re 1 for 20 seconds. ISD calls will cost Re 1 for 6 seconds.
Explaining the economics of the project, BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade said: "The Hutch PCO is a GSM-based phone. BEST will approximately earn Rs 50 lakh from the public phone project, as the phone companies will pay Rs 120 per bus per month. The phone boxes will be installed and maintained by the company."
Khobragade said the new facility will immensely help the public everywhere in the city.
The BEST has another project up its sleeve to garner additional revenue, that of introducing innovative grab handles. The transparent fibre-made handles will be installed by a private company which will pay BEST Rs 100 per bus for allowing the installation.
In turn, the company will carry advertisements on these handles.
"It is a risk, but we are confident of the success of this project," Prakash Jhajaria of Admire Signs & Display Pvt Ltd said.
BEST GM makes first call, to daughter in Pak
BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade called up his daughter Devyani Khobragade, who is Under Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and stationed in Pakistan, from the inaugural BEST bus with the telephone facility at the inauguration function held at Electric House in Colaba.