The air-conditioned King Long buses, meant for the city, will no longer be used to ferry passengers at the airport. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has decided to withdraw all 30 King Long buses rented to aviation companies for ferrying passengers between the terminal and the aircraft. The BEST had procured these buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme.
Hindustan Times had on August 28 reported that the Union urban development department was unhappy with the BEST’s decision to rent 30 of the 270 King Long buses it had procured.
“The buses allotted to aviation companies will be withdrawn within a month,” BEST committee member Ravi Raja said. “If that is not done, the BEST will not get the balance Rs 90 crore under the JNNURM for buying more buses.” The BEST is in the process of procuring 1,000 single-decker buses, Midi-buses and air-conditioned King Long buses under the JNNURM.
Sources in the BEST said the King Long buses at the airport will be replaced by the BEST’s red air-conditioned buses. The BEST procured the King Long buses for Rs 65 to Rs 70 lakh a bus under the JNNURM with funding from the state government and the Centre. It had planned to rent 63 King Long buses to Jet Airways and Air India through Cambata Aviation Private Limited for which it was to earn Rs 1.85 lakh on one bus every month.
The BEST decided to allot these buses to airlines to recover losses it incurred by running these buses. The undertaking claims it earns Rs 1.52 lakh a month on one King Long bus by putting it to public use but maintaining one bus exceeds Rs 2 lakh, which makes it necessary for BEST to use part of its fleet for commercial purposes.
This proposal was cleared in the first week of July when 12 King Long buses were to be allocated to Cambata Aviation. General manager of BEST, OP Gupta, had said that the undertaking was catering to the public by ferrying them from the terminal to the aircraft.
The aviation companies were to carry out regular maintenance work of these buses while BEST was to supervise maintenance once in a while.