The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has decided to slash fares for its air-conditioned (AC) buses by about 50%. But there is no relief for those who prefer ordinary BEST buses. The BEST committee approved a fare rationalisation proposal moved by the administration on Wednesday.
BEST panel chairman Mohan Mithbaokar said the fare proposal will be sent to the BMC for approval, after which it will need a nod from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority, before the fare comes into effect.
Except for a few long-distance commuters, ordinary bus commuters won’t get much relief. But it will be a boon for AC bus commuters as BEST has proposed reducing their fare by more than 50%.
It means a commuter will have to pay Rs35 for a 10-km journey, which currently costs Rs65. For non-AC buses, the fare remains unchanged, but BEST has introduced slabs of 2km, 4km, 6km, 8km, 10km, 14km, 17km, 20km and onwards at every 5km. Presently, the slabs are at a distance of 2km, 4km, 6km, 10 km, 14km, 20 km and onwards at every 10km.
Jagdish Patil, general manager of BEST, said the decision to introduce new slabs will reduce their daily earnings by Rs4.61 lakh and to recover it they will have to increase the number of daily passengers by 22,335. A reduction in AC bus fare will lead to a daily loss of Rs1.60 lakh. To recover this, they will have to carry 2,400 more passengers daily. Patil said they decided to slash AC bus fare to attract commuters. He also hinted at a reduction of the non-AC bus fare in the future, if their revenue goes up after fare revision. “If commuters support us, we would consider it,” said Patil.
Though the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena passed the fare rationalisation proposal unanimously, the opposition called it an eyewash. “Before 2015, BEST had a loss of Rs650 crore. How did it rise to Rs900 crore, despite two back-to-back fare revisions?” said Raji Raja, senior member of Congress.