Low frequency, overcrowding irk commuters

Updated on Nov 14, 2022 01:14 AM IST

Mumbai: Low frequency, lack of maintenance, shortage of buses and overcrowding are some of the issues being faced by the commuters of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) services

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ByAnkita G Menon

Mumbai: Low frequency, lack of maintenance, shortage of buses and overcrowding are some of the issues being faced by the commuters of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) services.

The commuters have demanded that the authorities increase the frequency of bus service even as the two big announcements—double decker air-conditioned (AC) buses and premium buses—are yet to materialise.

“The route number 124 that runs between Worli depot and Colaba is always overcrowded. Unlike earlier, the frequency of this bus has been reduced and commuters are forced to stand in long queues most of the time,” said Nandini Iyer, 39, a regular commuter from Worli to Colaba.

“Buses are overcrowded and not punctual, some of the buses that arrive are not maintained as well,” added Kushrav Desai, 44, a resident of Andheri.

Recently, Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority (MMRTA) approved permits for 2,000 new BEST buses that will be mostly electric and AC buses. However, these buses will be added to the fleet only by 2023. The BEST has a fleet of 3,619, of which around 1,390 are operated under the wet lease for a ridership of 36 lakh.

Moreover, many of the drivers have retired and some are on long leave, affecting the functioning of the bus services.

“Earlier, a single route had around nine bus services, now, the same route comprises hardly four services. There are various reasons like lack of maintenance, operating staff and as most of the services are on wet lease its maintenance is handled by the contractors,” said a ground staff of Worli depot.

He further added, “In such circumstances, the BEST makes use of existing fleet and manpower to ensure no particular routes are suffering. For instance, some of the services on popular route numbers at Worli depot like 50, 55, 44 and 354 have been diverted to other routes.”

Meanwhile, Lokesh Chandra, general manager, BEST, said, “In the next three years, there will be an additional 10,000 e-buses in the fleet. A gradual increase in the fleet size will begin from December.”

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