Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is reluctant to ply low-floor buses, specially designed for the physically challenged, on Mumbai’s roads.
According to BEST’s traffic department, these buses run on CNG and halt abruptly, especially on steep roads. “They cause traffic jams when they cease to work. The weight of CNG cylinders below the bus deck makes the vehicles too heavy and so they aren’t able to carry a heavy-passenger load unlike the buses running on diesel or petrol,” said a traffic official requesting anonymity.
There are 32 such vehicles in BEST's 4,700-bus fleet that have been purchased since 2004 at a cost of around Rs 30 lakh each.
“These buses can run only on leveled roads and it becomes difficult to ply in areas where the road levels are uneven especially during monsoon,” said G.R. Jagtap, assistant general manager (Transport), BEST.
The low-floor buses were initially launched for the physically challenged and the seating arrangements too were fitted accordingly. “The commuters have also complained that there is not enough place to sit and many go standing. Even the windows are way above the seats,” added the BEST official.
Keeping these problems in mind, the BEST wants to restrict its purchase of low-floor buses, for now. As part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Mission, the BEST is in the final stage of purchasing 175 midi-buses, which are single-door buses.
But these buses too, face similar problems, as they cannot climb steep roads. There have been instances when people inside these buses have been asked to get down at areas where the road is steep. “The buses running on CNG cannot take much load and so at times the conductors might be asking the commuters to get down. I will ask the engineering department about this issue,” said BEST Chairman, Dilip Patel.