Your daily commute in a Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus may be in the hands of inexperienced drivers.
Several of the 12,000 drivers — more than one-third of them are on a daily wage — haven’t received sufficient training to drive the normal buses and the air-conditioned King Long buses.
“The administration feels that the new daily wage drivers are the mostly involved in the accidents although there is no specific figure to it. The problem is that these drivers get minimum training and are given different buses every day. Therefore, it becomes difficult for them to get a hold of the vehicle,” said Sunil Ganacharya, a BEST committee member who also represents the daily wage drivers and conductors.
However, BEST officials said these drivers are given the proper training. “These daily-wage drivers will compulsory undergo training for 30 days as per the process,” said OP Gupta, general manager, BEST.
As per procedure, BEST first places an advertisement to fill the vacancies. Then it scrutinises all papers including caste certificates. Then the administration begins finalising the names of those selected. “We wouldn’t have allowed daily- wage drivers to run our buses without verifying their background,” said Sanjay Potnis, chairman, BEST committee.
Around 4,500 daily-wage drivers have been inducted in the last month, because there is a shortage in the number of drivers needed to run buses in three shifts everyday. These drivers were brought in after BEST decided to add 1,000 buses to their fleet.
“These drivers are novices and haven’t undergone the training given to a driver who is part of the payroll,” said a senior BEST official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“The administration has given the buses in the hands of any driver who owns a commercial driving licence batch,” said BEST Committee member, Ravi Raja.