The Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) committee had come down heavily on the administration on the condition of King Long buses.
The administration has been receiving complaints from commuters that the air-conditioned buses make a lot of noise while travelling and struggle while going uphill.
There are 272 King Long buses that ply on Mumbai roads. Out of these, 200 were purchased less than a year ago. “It was a policy decision made by the government. We found King Long buses most suitable three years ago,” said a senior BEST official on condition of anonymity.
According to commuters, the buses breakdown quite often especially while on the highways. They say it is difficult to maneuver to bus in the narrow city lanes. Even the electronic display boards of these buses don’t function.
The BEST administration has proposed the maintenance cost of King Long buses from Rs 550 lakh to Rs 650 lakh in their budget for 2011-12.
“The cost of maintenance of King Long buses has increased by over Rs 100 lakh,” said Sunil Ganacharya, BEST Committee member representing Shiv Sena. “ Certain parts need to be discarded as there is no scope for repairing them. The parts then have to be imported, which hikes the cost.”
According to the BEST official, the sturdy appearance of the bus is now proving to be deceptive. “Also, the employees aren’t trained properly, which results in more damage,” he said.
However, the BEST administration claims that the maintenance cost of King Long buses is bound to increase as presently the company is maintaining it for free. “It will be our responsibility once the term is over,” said OP Gupta, general manager, BEST.