The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) committee, on Friday, has cleared the proposal, to allot 12 King Long buses to Jet Airways (Kambhatta Aviation Pvt Ltd) for carrying fliers from the plane to the airport terminal and back.
They have already allotted eight King Long buses to Air India for the same purpose. BEST will earn around Rs 1.85 lakh on every bus per month.
“The deal includes giving 37 more King Long buses to Air India and 6 more to Jet Airways, which will be completed in coming days,” said a BEST official on condition of anonymity.
“Our duty is to serve people. So even if it runs to ply airline commuters, we are catering to public,” said BEST General Manager, OP Gupta.
The reason behind allotting these buses to airlines is to recover losses faced by the air-conditioned buses run by BEST.
“The fact is barring one or two routes, the air-conditioned services of BEST is facing loss,” said Sanjay Potnis, chairman, BEST Committee.
The BEST claims that it earns around Rs 1.52 lakh per month by running King Long buses, but its maintenance is more than Rs 2 lakh.
According to the agreement, Jet Airways will carry out regular maintenance work of these buses while BEST will just oversee maintenance once in a while.
“The entire fleet of buses running on air-condition is a loss-making one. We are not only trying to reduce losses but also create a brand for ourselves,” added Gupta.
The total number of buses procured under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is 200 while the remaining numbers have been bought by BEST.
Under JNNURM, the BEST procured these buses with part funding by the state government and the Centre. The King Long buses have been acquired at a cost of Rs 65-70 lakh.
But some of the BEST Committee members opposed this proposal. “The air-conditioned buses earn a revenue of Rs 11 lakh every month by carrying people on road. There was no need to pass this proposal,” said Nitin Salagale, BEST Committee member.