Things are not going well for the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport’s (BEST) transport wing. It has witnessed a sharp decline in bus passengers in the past seven months. Between December 2014 and June 2015, the number of passengers saw a drop of nearly 20%. An RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali also revealed BEST is incurring a daily loss of Rs 2.26 crore.
The passenger turn out recorded in December 2014 was 35.15 lakh, which reduced to 35.02 lakh in January, 30.91 lakh in March and 29.10 lakh in April, respectively. For first time in the past few years, the passenger turnout touched a record low of 25.19lakh passengers in May this year, way below than 29.90 lakh passengers in May 2014.
The officials attributed the dismal passenger turnout in May to summer vacations. Besides, they said, many passengers were on vacation.
A BEST official also blamed the traffic congestion on road for the poor response.
“The major reason for reduction in passenger is poor punctuality of buses, which is generally because of congestion on the roads. This can be only improved only by introducing dedicated bus lanes at least on some stretches of the city,” said Jagdish Patil, general manager.
Apart from congestion, BEST committee members also blamed the poor condition of buses and a lack of innovative ideas, forcing passengers to shift to other modes of transport such as metro, share-an-auto, share-a-taxi and the monorail.
“BEST should have anticipated this reduction in passengers long before the metro and monorail were to be introduced in the city.
A dedicated bus lane should be a priority if BEST has to survive, but at the same time we should improve our quality of service by giving Wi Fi, which will attract the young generation,” said Kedar Hombalkar, BEST committee members.
Ravi Raja, BEST committee member said, “The drop is mainly after the revision of fares, therefore the basic fare should be reduced to Rs6 and even the dedicated bus lane should be given a priority.”