BEST begins road-testing of shiny AC double-deckers

Published on Aug 18, 2022 12:49 AM IST

The new buses will carry the BEST colours — a combination of red and black —and will have a digital display upfront. A double door at the rear end of the bus opens to a staircase for access to the upper deck

First electric double decker BEST bus arrives at Colaba Depot (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
First electric double decker BEST bus arrives at Colaba Depot (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
ByAnkita G Menon

Mumbai: Mumbai’s iconic double-decker bus will be seen in a new and modern avatar. Starting September, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) will introduce the first bus of its newly-acquired electric double-decker air conditioned fleet, even as the rest will hit the city’s roads by mid-2023.

Switch mobility—Ashok Leyland’s electric vehicle arm — will supply 900 electric buses to BEST; half of them are scheduled to be delivered next year. The first look of the new bus will officially be unveiled today. It will undergo a few trial runs and will start plying on the city roads next month.

Similar to the Metrodecker, which is currently operational in London, each bus can seat up to 99 people, and ranges between 10.5 metres to 11.1 m, making it one of the longest in BEST’s fleet. It is powered by a 250kw electric motor with a range of over 300 kilometres on a single charge of six hours.

The new buses will carry the BEST colours — a combination of red and black —and will have a digital display upfront. A double door at the rear end of the bus opens to a staircase for access to the upper deck.

BEST has a fleet of 3,680 buses with 396 electric buses and 45 conventional double deckers. The transport utility boasts of a ridership of 33 lakh commuters daily and is looking to increase its fleet of electric vehicles for eco-friendly rides. “While Switch will conduct the official unveiling on Thursday morning, the bus will be inaugurated by Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for Road Transport and Highways in the evening. We shall share details of the route as well as announce the date from which the bus will be operational soon,” said Manoj Varade, public relations officer, BEST.

“The fun of sitting on the front seat of the upper deck will be missed in the AC buses. Even children would enjoy that experience and would be excited to hop into a double decker bus for the same,” said Rajani Rao, 45, who regularly commutes from CSMT to Apollo Bunder.

Double-decker buses were immensely popular among commuters. Between 1948 and 1993, over 882 double-decker buses were introduced. However, the parts were not easily available, and maintenance became an issue. What’s more, they occupied more space on the road. BEST began to phase out its fleet, retiring double-decker buses after their shelf life of 25 years ended — by 2018 only 120 remained and by 2021, there were only 48 in Mumbai.

Hussain Indorewala, co-convenor, aamchi Mumbai aamchi BEST, a citizen forum for public transport, said, “BEST already has double decker buses, so while this is not a new feature, the fact that these are electric vehicles definitely is a highlight. However, the electrification of BEST buses seems to be a mask for privatisation of BEST. The civic body should ideally focus on restricting emissions of private automobiles and build dedicated bus lanes for smooth flow of traffic.”

Of the 3,680 fleet of buses with BEST, only around 1,800 continue to be under the BEST, while the others are wet leased.

Link for QR Code: https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/the-best-of-mumbai-a-joy-ride-away-101644084344399.html

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