The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is planning to try out a dedicated bus lane between Andheri and Kandivli by the end of January.
The proposed bus lane – under which dedicated lanes are provided only for public buses as a fast means of mass transport – has not been implemented by government agencies till date due to lack of co-ordination.
Late last year, around Diwali, the authorities decided to start it on the eastern and western express highways, but that did not take off. They have now decided to implement it between Andheri and Kandivli.
The BEST is in talks with the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) to begin this dedicated route. “This project is in the last stages and we intend to begin trial runs from this month between the north end of Jay Coach flyover in Andheri and the Times of India flyover at Kandivli,” BEST general manager, OP Gupta, said.
The BEST will also need clearances from the traffic police. It will decide the frequency of the buses running on this route after receiving all clearances. Normally, a bus running on a dedicated route runs every 3-5 minutes.
“We want to make sure there are no legal impediments and all modalities are taken care of. We will begin once proper infrastructure is in place and permission is got from the traffic police, which is the competent authority,” said another BEST official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
BEST members feel this project will attract more commuters, as buses would run better and faster. “If dedicated bus lanes are implemented on both highways then the number of passengers using it would definitely increase as no one likes to get stuck in traffic jams,” said Dilip Patel, member of BEST’s standing committee.
Corporators said there had been a drop in the number of passengers using BEST buses after the hike in ticket prices. “Earlier, around 45 lakh passengers travelled on our buses, but it has now come down to around 42 lakh. This means a daily revenue loss of around Rs 15 lakh to the BEST,” said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.
The BEST is also facing a shortage of manpower to run additional buses for this purpose. “We have already hired 1,500 drivers and 1,500 conductors. We need a total of 8,500 drivers and conductors,” Gupta added.