Thousands of students will be hit this exam season as there are fewer BEST buses running on the city’s streets.
Last month, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) discontinued 35 old buses from service, as they expected 300 new buses will start plying, in phases, by the end of March. So far, the administration has not received single lot from a private company it has tied up with.
The result? Fewer buses mean commuters end up waiting nearly 45 minutes in many areas across the city, BEST committee members said at a meeting held on Monday.
“Delay in the procurement of new buses is a failure on the part of the administration. I they were aware about the delay in procurement of new buses, they should have postponed scrapping the old buses by at least a month, so that operations are not affected during the exam period,” said Kedar Hombalkar, BEST committee member.
BEST committee members raised the fear of the frequency falling in December 2016 itself, when the administration decided to scrap 90 buses, Hombalkar said. “The administration should have delayed the scrapping of those 35 buses till new ones came,” he said.
BEST has a total fleet of 3,578 buses, of which 3,375 are non-air conditioned (AC) and 203 are AC buses. Of these, 75 buses have been sent for major repair works, leaving just 3,300 operational buses to cater to around 30 lakh commuters daily.
On the delay, BEST general manager Jagdish Patil said, “There is a court order to scrap all buses that are older than 15 years and all non-Ac buses we are scrapping have crossed that mark. About the new buses, we have requested the private company to give us at least 185 buses by March-end.”