Mere emotional appeal is not going to win back passengers to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking buses. Reduction of fare and improvement in services’ quality is the need of hour, say commuters and transport experts.
One among the finest public transport undertaking in Asia, BEST is facing double trouble. On one hand, its daily passengers dropped down to 30 lakh, while its cumulative losses zoomed to over Rs 2,400 crore.
The BEST administration led by general manager Jagdish Patil is now trying to bring back its glory. It launched several initiatives, including poster campaigns and announcements at the stops, through which it tried to strike the emotional chord of the commuters.
Experts are, however, doubtful about the results. “Emotional appeals not going to work at all. BEST administration needs to bring down the minimum fare to Rs 6 to get back passengers. Some kind of incentive should be given to the fare or passes,” said Ravi Raja, one of the longest serving members of BEST committee.
Experts say BEST needs to take multiple steps to counter the situation. Ashok Datar, transport expert, suggests that the body needs to emphasise on increasing the speed of its buses, besides improving service quality.
“Priority should be given on increasing the speed and frequency,” said Datar, adding that without providing dedicated bus lanes, it is not possible.
Datar also advised to introduce some mobile-based applications to give information such as arrival of next bus to passengers.
“We believe that in a period of 3-4 years, if we modernise traffic and bus systems, we can achieve bus ridership of around 55-60 lakh,” said Datar.
Experts also said the state gover nment can give some relief to BEST by reducing the burden of taxes, while as a parent body t he BMC should give the financial help of least Rs 1,000- 2,000 crore annually.