The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) seems to be losing out on its passengers. The undertaking has witnessed at least a 10% drop in the number of passengers travelling daily by the red buses in 2011.
Till September 2010, at least 45 lakh people used the BEST bus on daily basis. However, the number dropped by 10% till March 2011.
A major reason for the drop is the 50% increase in ticket rates since September 2010. Apart from that time taken by a BEST bus to reach its destination has increased tremendously due to congestion on the roads and diversion given to the buses due to various ongoing development projects. This has forced several passengers to turn to other ways of travelling such as share-an-auto and cab scheme.
“Though we have no scope of refusing passenger, our ticket rate remains the same even during traffic. There has been a consistent drop in the number of passengers and if the number of share-an-auto and taxis increase, the trend will continue,” said a BEST official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media
“The reduction was expected as now the buses are taking more time to cover distance due to traffic. What can help is a dedicated bus lane or if the roads are clear of the development projects, the number may rise,” said NA Walawalkar, PRO, BEST.
According to transport expert Sudhir Badami, the drop is mostly due to passengers buying cars or using autos and taxis to save time. “Till the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is not implemented there may not be a rise in the number passengers, the overall number of people using public transport has dropped,” said Badami.