Non-AC double-decker buses to be phased out by October
These double-decker buses have reached their codal life of 15 years and need to be scrapped for safety reasons. According to officials from Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) a schedule has been created for scrapping these handful of double-decker buses in their fleet
Mumbai: Take a ride on the BEST’s iconic non-air-conditioned double-decker buses before they vanish from the city roads. The era of the iconic non-AC double-decker buses, which have been serving Mumbai since 1937, is coming to an end as nine of the remaining 19 double-decker buses operating in the city will be scrapped for good.
By the end of September, only one non-AC double-decker bus shall remain in the fleet and that too is expected to be decommissioned in October.
These double-decker buses have reached their codal life of 15 years and need to be scrapped for safety reasons. According to officials from Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) a schedule has been created for scrapping these handful of double-decker buses in their fleet.
“This month we will scrap nine double-decker buses after which in August seven more will be scrapped. In September, two buses and finally in October, the last remaining one will be decommissioned,” said a BEST official.
The BEST hasn’t decided on whether they will keep one such bus in their museum. These non-AC double-decker buses will be taken out of service for safety reasons and as of now, there are no proposals to reintroduce non-AC double-decker buses into the system.
Some of the routes where these double-decker buses ply are Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Churchgate, CSMT-World Trade Centre (at Cuffe Parade) and Santacruz East railway station. Around two to three years before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were almost 120 double-deckers in the fleet, which has gradually depleted.
The phasing out of the non-AC double-decker buses comes at a time when BEST is struggling to procure AC double-deckers electric buses. Currently, there are 12 AC e-double-decker buses manufactured by Switch Mobility, an arm of Ashok Leyland, that ply on city roads.
The BEST, in their recent meeting with the manufacturer, had given them an ultimatum to expedite delivery of these AC e-double decker buses.
However, many citizens said that these new hi-tech buses cannot replace the charm of the non-AC double-decker buses that have been on the city roads for 86 years.
“Commuters love these buses and continue to do so. People who were not in a hurry would wait for these buses, especially to occupy the coveted front seats on the top deck, where one can feel the breeze on their face,” said N Desai, a resident of Matunga.
The procurement of electric double-decker AC buses has been a struggle, said a BEST source, adding that they expect six more AC e-double-decker buses to be on roads within the next fortnight.