Transport experts and activists have suggested that the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) should focus on increasing passenger occupancy instead of hiking fares.
Even as the loss-making BEST enforced two fare hikes since February to mitigate losses, they say if buses are occupied the transport body’s revenue will automatically go up.
Unlike suburban railways, BEST lacks committed season ticket holders. Consequently, owing to fare hikes or delay in the services, bus commuters immediately switch over to alternative modes of transport such as autos and taxis.
“The BEST should work on increasing their monthly pass holders so that they get committed passengers. It will increase the utility of their bus fleet and also reduce traffic on the road. This can be done by reducing the costs and introducing technology such as GPS, which will help the passengers at bus stops to know the exact location of buses,” said Chetan Temkar, transport expert.
Currently, BEST charges fare for 22 days (44 trips) from pass holders, whereas commuters many regular commuters such as office goers and college students use the facility only for 20-odd days a month.
“Generally, people use the buses only for 20-22days then why should we pay in advance to the BEST unless they give us incentives. The BEST should reduce the monthly bus pass costs so as to encourage people to switch buy passes,” said Suvarna Agharkar, a resident of Gandhi Nagar, Bandra (East).
Another expert pointed out that several passengers prefer to walk short distances instead of taking the a bus due to high fares. “The BEST needs to do a deep analysis to ascertain why they can’t have more passengers. They need to find out in which distance slabs the passengers are going down and what can be done to improve it,” said Sunil Mone, transport activist.
BEST general manager Jagdish Patil said it was not possible to make any changes in the fare. “The decision of BEST fare revision cannot be made in day or two. We are making efforts to improve the quality of services. I am sure this will help regain passengers.”