BEST to procure 2,100 electric buses, set up 55 electric charging stations in Mumbai
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transportation (BEST) will have only electric buses in its fleet by 2027, and plans to procure 2,100 electric buses, provide dedicated services to corporate houses and business hubs, and set up 55 electric vehicle charging stations in the city. The announcement was made in its annual budget for the year 2022-23, on Friday, when BEST presented a budget of ₹2,236.48 crore deficit, of which ₹2,110.47 crore is deficit from transport. An outlay of ₹695.18 has been made for capital expenditure for 2022-23.
The 2,100 e-buses will be procured on a gross cost contract model and will include 200 air-conditioned (AC) double-decker buses, 100 mini-AC buses, 400 midi AC buses, and 1,400 single-decker AC buses. In line with the Electric Vehicle Policy announced by the Maharashtra government, BEST has planned that 50% of its fleet will be of electric buses by March 2023, and its entire fleet will be of electric buses by March 2027.
It will also customise its services to cater to corporate houses, call centres and schools, and will start dedicated bus routes between the airport and Nariman Point, and BKC. With this, the cash strapped body aims at optimal revenue generation. Public charging stations will be installed at all bus depots, at approximately 55 locations in the city. Special women-only services will ply on crowded routes during peak hours, along the lines of Tejaswini bus.
In its budget presented on Friday, BEST has shown a total income of ₹4,997.04 crores, of which ₹1,451.67 crore is income from transport, and ₹3,545.37 crore is income from electric supply. It has a total expenditure of ₹7,233.52 crore, of which ₹3,562.14 crore is for transport, and ₹3,671.38 is for electric supply.
BEST will also implement a digital ticketing system, for digital mobile tickets, e-passes, with an integrated payment gateway for online transactions using popular payment methods such as UPI, debit cards, credit cards, net banking, via a mobile application. The app will also provide bus timings in real-time.
However, the deficit in the budget has been criticised by committee members. Leader of the Opposition and BEST committee member Ravi Raja on Friday said, “Losses have been more than ₹2,300 crore. For the past three years, from 2018 to 2021, ₹3,500 crore has been given by the municipal corporation to BEST. It is high time the administration has to think about ways to stand on its own feet. BEST has a lot of assets and needs to come up with ways in which it can utilise these assets to generate revenue and reduce its losses.”
Presently 65% of BEST electricity consumers pay their bills online. BEST plans to promote this to 80% of online bill payments and will focus on the expansion of bill collection centres through bank branches and other digital payment methods, a statement from BEST said.