The city may witness a tussle between municipal transport bodies and private bus operators over Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority’s (MMRTA) decision to allow free movement of private buses in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) on a single contract carriage permit.
Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatana(MBMS), a body of private bus operators, has written a letter to the MMRTA, in which it has refuted all the claims of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply Transport (BEST) about freeing movement of private bus operators in MMR. It requested the transport authority to listen to it before taking any decision on the issue.
In the meeting on July 8, MMRTA decided that there was no need for a new contract carriage permit every time a bus enters from the jurisdiction of one RTO to another. It had allowed private buses to move freely in the MMR, just by taking up a single contract carriage permit.
Last month, the BEST undertaking had objected to the decision.
Mohan Mithbaokar, chairman of BEST committee that governs the century-old body, has written a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadanvis and requested him to scrap the MMRTA decision, as it will badly affect the finances of the public transport body. He had claimed that the decision was taken despite BEST’s objection.
Malik Patel, leader of MBMS, said that since the BEST and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) have no monopoly in the MMR, they do not have any right to object to the free movement of private buses. “Since, the permits issued to us and BEST are totally different, there is no chance of adverse effects on its earning,” said Patel, adding that BEST has been given stage carriage permits, while private buses ply on the contract carriage permit.
According to MBMS, MMRTA has taken the decision after considering their long-pending demand and the passengers have benefited from the decision of the transport authority because they have to pay less for booking contract carriage buses for occasions such as picnics, marriage parties and office tours. “If MMRTA scraps the decision, we will go agitate against it. School buses and office buses will also participate in the agitation,” said Patel.