Members of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) committee have demanded the air-conditioned (AC) bus service, which is making losses, be shut down.
The move will affect 1.28 lakh city commuters. Currently, BEST operates 171 AC buses on its 22 routes. The high-maintenance cost has reduced the number of vehicles on road from 284 to 171.
“Our AC buses are in pathetic condition. Instead of spending a huge amount on its maintenance, which is almost equal to the cost of the vehicle, the BEST should shut down AC buses. The service is running into huge losses and caters only to a handful of commuters,” said Suhas Samant, BEST committee member.
The approximate revenue earned by an AC bus in a day is Rs9,000, while the maintenance cost incurred is Rs18,000. In 2013, the undertaking had to dispose of 20 air-conditioned buses in less than six years, much less than the life for a non-AC bus which is 15 years.
“The undertaking is facing losses because the then ruling party procured faulty buses. Forcing commuters to suffer for the mistakes committed by the administration or committee members is not the solution,” said Kedar Hombalkar, another committee member.
Transport expert Ashok Datar said, “The undertaking should make operational changes instead of shutting down the service. They should reduce the size of the buses. They could operate the service using only a driver and allowing only card-holders on the bus.”