The recent Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus fare revision seems to have cost Mumbai’s 32 lakh suburban commuters dearly. The hike has made the BEST bus commute the costliest, as compared to similar services in Navi Mumbai and Thane.
The minimum fare (2km) for both Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) and Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) services is Rs 5 in a regular bus and Rs 15 for an air-conditioned (AC) bus. In sharp contrast, BEST’s minimum fare is Rs 7 for a regular bus and Rs 25 for an AC bus. This may increase to Rs 8 and Rs 30 respectively, once the April 1 fare revision comes into effect.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — BEST’s parent body —recently cleared two subsequent fare hikes. The first hike, ranging from Rs 1-10 — was implemented on February 1, while the second hike by Rs 1-2 is likely to be implemented on April 1.
Yet another issue is that BEST’s long-distance bus tariff is significantly high as compared to NMMT and TMT. One reason is that while BEST has only nine distance slabs, both NMMT and TMT have over 20 distance slabs of 2km each (see box). In the last fare revision, BEST restructured its distance slab, forcing commuters to pay more for higher distances. For instance, while NMT and TMT tariff is Rs 20 and Rs 22 respectively for a distance of 20.1km, theBEST tariff is flat Rs 30 for 20-30km.
“The BEST fare hike for longer distances and the slab restructuring is not justified. It should be similar to TMT and NMMT for every 2km. Now, BEST even has electronic ticketing, so they should not have problem in increasing the number of slabs,” said Kedar Hombalkar, BEST committee member.
A BEST official, requesting anonymity, said, “A majority [75%] of our commuters fall in slabs up to 30km. The number of commuters travelling beyond that is very less and therefore we have kept longer distance slabs.”