For decades, the iconic red-coloured Brihanmunbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses have been an integral part of the Mumbai’s identity. However, it may change soon.
The BEST undertaking, which operates the century-old public transport service, is seeking response from Mumbaiites to its proposal of changing the colour of the buses to white and yellow. To test the efficacy of its proposal, two buses will be painted white and yellow on trial basis.
This is part of the BEST’s plan to overhaul its service, including its vehicles by introducing a new colour scheme, providing free WiFi inside buses and at bus stops, entertainment options on commuters’ mobile phones, real time location and expected time of arrival (ETA).The steps are being taken to up the number of commuters, which has been seen a steady decline over the years on a rapid decline.
However, the decision to change the colour will be taken only after considering reactions of the passengers. The response will be sought in the buses and via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The new colour scheme has been suggested by the students from JJ School of Arts.
“Instead of implementing the new colour scheme on trial basis, the administration should first take public opinion,” said Kedar Hombalkar, a BEST committee member who is against repainting.
Most BEST committee members have opposed the proposal, saying that the undertaking will be unable to maintain the white colour and the new colour scheme will adversely affect the identity of the British-era public transport system.
“Even with red-colour, we are hardly able to maintain our buses and keep them clean. How will the administration maintain the white colour? Do they have a plan to wash and keep them clean?” said Ravi Raja, another BEST committee member.
When contacted, Jagdish Patil,BEST general manager, said, “We are not changing the bus colour scheme overnight. This is just a suggestion and only two vehicles out of our fleet of 3,800 buses will be painted white and yellow to gauge public response. We will also conduct online survey on Facebook and Twitter before taking the final decision.”
Did you know?
With 28 lakh commuters, BEST is the second largest public transport system in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) after suburban railways that ferry 75 lakh commuters. However, in the past few years, the number of bus passengers has seen a steady decline due to slow speed of buses owing to congested roads, increase in bus fare and mushrooming of new business hubs in the suburbs. Also, a sharp rise in number of two-wheelers across Mumbai has added to this decline.