Within two months of hiking the fares, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking is all set to burden its 35 lakh commuters with another tariff hike in the range of Rs 1-10 from April 1.
The hike, which has been approved by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) — a quasi-judicial transport body chaired by the state transport secretary — will push the minimum fare for ordinary buses to Rs 8, and Rs 30 for air-conditioned buses.
The earlier fare hike, which was implemented from February 1, set the minimum fare for ordinary buses to Rs 7 and for air-conditioned buses to Rs 25.
According to the authorities, the BEST undertaking is facing an accumulated loss of over Rs 2,400 crore, of which Rs 770 crore is the contribution of its transport wing. The officials claim although the hike may not address its financial needs, they wanted to keep the load on the commuters to a minimum. “The fare for ordinary buses has been hiked by Rs 1-2, while for AC buses the hike is Rs 5-10. Some slabs have been exempted from the hike altogether,” said Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST undertaking, adding they are taking steps to generate revenue from alternative sources.
The BEST committee, the regulatory body of the undertaking, along with its parent body, the BMC, had cleared the hike before sending the proposal to the MMRTA, which is mandatory according to the law. While the MMRTA is authorised to deny or tweak the fare hike, it cleared the proposal without any changes, said sources. The transport authority has also approved the fare hike for the Virar-Vasai Municipal Transport Corporation, a bus service run by a private contractor, which will be implemented from next month, said sources.
The fare hikes have made BEST buses the costliest among those in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
To avoid the second hike, the BEST administration had sought financial assistance of Rs 150 crore from the BMC, but the ruling Shiv Sena refused it, instead assuring it would provide funds to procure new buses.