There are 4,700 buses in the stables of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking.
But you do not see all of them on the roads because there is no space for them to ply. The BEST has said it is unable to run at least 470 buses [ten per cent] every day.
At least 188 buses do not ply because of a lack of space on Mumbai’s roads. The remaining 282 are either under maintenance or repairs or are reserves for emergencies.
BEST Chairman, Dilip Patel, said, “It is a fact that 10 per cent out of the total fleet of buses does not run. We are pressing the state government to implement projects such as the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).” The BRTS will ensure dedicated lanes for BEST buses.
“People are being deprived of good public transport and their money is wasted because we keep buying buses although there is not enough space on the roads,” said a senior BEST official requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
A recent report by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority said Mumbai’s vehicle population went up from 49,000 in 1951 to 17.15 lakh in 2009. Since 2001, there has been an average annual increase of 1.03 lakh vehicles. People are opting for cars rather than depending on BEST buses, which crawl at 12 to 14 km/hr.
The BEST is in the process of buying 175 midi-buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. “But the roads in Mumbai will not be able to handle another 100 normal sized buses,” Patel said.
Transport expert Sudhir Badami said, “The state government needs to implement the Bus Rapid Transit Project if it wants good public transport on Mumbai’s roads.”