You can now celebrate the new year with a bus ride across the sea link — for just Rs 23.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking on Thursday introduced its first non-AC bus service across the iconic bridge.
The special 33 Ltd services will start at Goregaon station and travel to Opera House via the Western Express Highway and the sea link.
“The new route will reduce travel time from 90 minutes to little over an hour,” said BEST chairman Dilip Patel.
As this service is still at an experimental stage, 33 Ltd buses that start at the Goregaon bus depot will continue to use the old route along the Link Road.
For commuters, the new route promises a shorter, easier trip to work.
“I usually take the train,” said Goregaon resident Hiten Shah, who works with a private firm in Worli. “Now that there’s a bus using the sea link, it will be more convenient, because there’s a bus stop right near my office.”
The BEST is considering sending a few more buses across the sea link, to cut down on travel time between the suburbs and the island city, but is first studying demand for such services.
The first service to use the sea link, the AC4 air-conditioned express bus, has had only a lukewarm response since it was introduced in November — perhaps because of the relatively high ticket cost of Rs 75 from Goregaon to Opera House.
A BEST source added that new routes would not be feasible unless the BEST renewed its contract with the toll collector.
“Currently, the undertaking pays a monthly toll of Rs 3,000,” said the source. “But the contract with Mumbai Entry Point Ltd , signed in October, ends in June 2010. Without that contract, buses cannot play on the sea link.”