Mumbai: Bowing down to the political pressure from ruling the Shiv Sena, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Monday agreed to put on hold its earlier decision to close down 52 loss-making bus routes from May 1.
The century-old organisation has announced it will restore these routes in the next three-four days in a phased manner. The announcement came after high drama at the Electric House, the BEST headquarters at Colaba, where 50-odd Sena corporators led by standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse and leader of the house Trushna Vishwasrao gheraoed BEST general manager Jagdish Patil and demanded the bus routes be restored.
“The protestors argued that people will be inconvenienced. The routes will be restored till the next operational review which will happen in four months,” said Patil. He added few days have been bought as the staff had been reshuffled based on the revised schedules.
Trushna Vishwasrao said, “Since it is meant for public service, BEST is running on ‘no loss-no profit’ basis. The administration has closed the routes citing loss. The financial condition of BEST can be improved, but closing down routes is not a solution.”
Phanse said, “The decision made by the BEST administration is ridiculous. Considering this logic, tomorrow if hospitals suffers losses, should we shut them down too?”
This incident has been viewed as a political tussle as the decision of scrapping the routes was supported by the BJP-ruled BEST committee chairman Mohan Mithabavkar. Last Friday, mayor Snehal Ambekar wrote to the BEST administration about not closing the routes.
This was the first time the transport undertaking closed such a large number of routes as they were making losses and were not getting enough passengers. BEST is going through its worst-ever financial crisis and has suffered losses of over Rs800 crore in the past few years.