Flouting traffic rules seems to be the order of the day for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus drivers. But this recklessness means compromising with safety and risking lives of passengers and pedestrians.
Last year, more than 1,646 BEST bus drivers were booked for not adhering to traffic rules. “If BEST drivers fail to follow traffic rules, then how can we expect taxi and autorickshaw drivers to be disciplined? Often we let go erring drivers because if we corner them, passengers will suffer,” said Nandakumar Chaugule, deputy commissioner of traffic police.
Chaugule said BEST has not taken any action against erring drivers. “My department has written several letters to the public undertaking, requesting them to give adequate traffic training to their drivers, especially those on daily wages so that they don’t create nuisance on the road,” said Chaugule.
In January, number of drivers and conductors working on daily wages was more than 6,000 and BEST had promised to employ them permanently but after they were properly trained.
BEST administration said drivers were being given traffic training, but denied having received any such letter from the traffic police. “We take strict action against any driver who doesn’t follow traffic laws. I am not aware of letters from traffic authority, but I will definitely look into the matter,” said Sanjay Potnis, BEST committee chairman. Public relation officer NA Walawalkar said, “BEST takes action if there has been a mishap due to driver’s carelessness. It is traffic police’s job to take action against erring drivers.”
Citizen activist GR Vora agreed that BEST bus drivers weren’t following traffic rules in the past two years. “It is risky for commuters as well as pedestrians, I had called on the BEST helpline and complained about drivers jumping signals and driving recklessly. The undertaking, however, hasn’t done anything yet. Drivers should be well-trained and only then permitted to drive BEST buses,” said Vora.
Nitin Dossa, executive president of the Western India Automobile Association, said, “BEST bus drivers must follow traffic rules. Rash driving may cost many innocent lives and they must be careful.”