Dr Jagdish Patil, general manager of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), told HT that giving the BEST fleet a dedicated lane for operation could be the first step in getting the large public undertaking back on track.
The BEST is heading for trouble with financial losses and decline in passengers. What are you doing to pull it out of the crisis?
The major issue is punctuality. If we maintain punctuality, the passengers will opt for BEST buses. For this, we need a dedicated bus lane, which will be the first step towards the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).
Are you getting enough support from the state government and other nodal agencies for the bus lane?
Of course. All agencies we approached so far including the BMC, MMRDA and city traffic police are very positive about the concept. The bus lane is important to keep the city traffic moving. On certain routes we operate 150 buses in 1 hour. If the buses occupy all three lanes on the road, it will affect traffic. But if the bus lane will ensure that both bus and vehicular traffic keep moving.
Why is there delay in taking a decision that can benefit 30 lakh passengers?
We have submitted the proposal of dedicated bus lanes at six locations to the local authorities. It was forwarded to the traffic police, who have examined the selected stretches with our officials. They will prepare a report, which will be submitted to the BMC.
World over public transport doesn’t make profit, but earn good revenue through non-fare box revenue such as land rentals and advertising. What are your plans?
We already have advertisements on buses and at bus stops. Now, we are trying to get ads for bus stations and the terminus. Also, we are trying to generate revenue by giving our buses on contract to private companies and corporates.
We have a fleet of 100 AC buses, which we offer to private companies such as Air India. Similarly, we are deploying non-AC buses to the diamond market at Bandra-Kurla Complex, where people take monthly passes, which gives us revenue in advance. We are also trying to increase our revenue through land leases that have expired.
Are you looking at bus lanes on SCLR, JVLR, Eastern Freeway, the proposed coastal road and MTHL?
We have already requested for a bus lane on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road and the authorities concerned are studying it. Bus lanes will be useful. On June 17, during the autorickshaw strike we plied more than 50 lakh passengers with the same fleet of buses and staff.