Private bus operators unwilling to accept BEST fares | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Private bus operators unwilling to accept BEST fares

Aug 08, 2023 12:37 AM IST

According to sources among private bus owners, BEST has been rigid about paying BEST rates to private bus operators who are willing to help out in the crisis. The Undertaking is paying ₹45 to ₹56 per kilometre, depending on whether the bus is air-conditioned or not. Sources said that some private bus operators were charging as much as ₹20 to ₹30 per seat on a few routes that they were operating

Mumbai: Private bus operators have not been forthcoming in their help to the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking. On Saturday, the state government allowed buses catering to offices, schools and private buses to ferry passengers from bus stops and bus stations based on BEST ticket fares.

Mumbai, India - Aug. 7, 2023: Commuters wait for buses at a stop during a strike called by drivers of private bus operators, at Andheri, in Mumbai, India, on Monday, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Vijay Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Aug. 7, 2023: Commuters wait for buses at a stop during a strike called by drivers of private bus operators, at Andheri, in Mumbai, India, on Monday, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Vijay Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

However, on Monday, only 200 of the 15,000 registered private buses were on the roads, said guardian minister (suburbs) Mangal Prabhat Lodha. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation is helping out by providing 180 of its buses.

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According to sources among private bus owners, BEST has been rigid about paying BEST rates to private bus operators who are willing to help out in the crisis. The Undertaking is paying 45 to 56 per kilometre, depending on whether the bus is air-conditioned or not. Sources said that some private bus operators were charging as much as 20 to 30 per seat on a few routes that they were operating.

“The BEST wants us to charge 5 to 10 per passenger based on the fares that they charge,” said a member of the Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatana. “Why should we bear losses? We asked them to give us the per-kilometre charge that they pay to their wet-lease operators. A few of our buses are on the road only because the government has requested us to help out.”

Former BEST committee members said that BEST’s arrogance had caused people to suffer. “The current situation of wet-lease buses questions the existence of BEST itself,” said Ravi Raja, a former BEST committee member. “The administration has handled this situation very poorly. There are barely 1,400 BEST-owned buses and no signs of getting any more.”

On August 4, BEST, in a statement, said that none of their drivers were part of the strike and their entire fleet was operating. The BEST undertaking has 1,390 buses in its fleet. Meanwhile, auto rickshaws and taxis did not take advantage of the situation and were plying on regular tariffs. The unions said there was an increase in demand of 15 to 20 percent.

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