Commuters avoiding rides on BEST AC buses because of the high fares, may be in for some good news, especially since it’s summer. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport has planned fare restructuring of the AC buses in its fleet to encourage more people to use the services.
Poor passenger patronage has been a problem that the BEST fades owing it higher fares compared to other municipal transport bodies in the MMR region. BEST, the second biggest public transport service provider in the city after suburban railways, has around 3,900 buses in its fleet.
Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST, said at an informal discussion with the media persons after a committee meeting on Monday, that transport undertaking is mulling a revision of fares of AC buses - the fares could either be reducted or there may be a restructuring of distance slabs. The idea is to bring more commuters on board and cut down BEST’s losses.
“The fare revision proposals will be prepared within next 15 days and presented in front of the BEST committee for approval,” said Patil, adding that once the committee approves the fare structure, it would be sent to the BMC for their nod before forwarding to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority for a final nod.
At present, BEST has 270 AC buses, of which majority were procured from Punjab based company JCBL, under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. While the AC buses fare is high though the condition of the buses is poor and therefore, passengers do not prefer to take these buses.
According to BEST officials, of the total number of AC buses just 102 buses, means around 44%, are being ulitlised for daily operations. As a result, the undertaking is suffering huge losses. Therefore during Monday’s meeting, committee members also suggested BEST to reduce fare and take up various other steps to popularize their operation.
BEST undertaking is going through worst ever financial crisis. Its transport wing has suffered financial loss to the tune of Rs 1000 crore. On other hand, it has witnessed rapid fall in its total number of passengers to below 30 lakh per day from 45 lakh few years back. According to BEST officials, AC bus operation is one of the reasons behind its heavy losses to the transport wing.