Mumbai’s iconic double- decker buses to be phased out by 2023

Updated on Oct 10, 2018 11:39 AM IST

Introduced in 1937, the buses gained popularity, both among commuters and tourists.

People lined up for the double decker best bus at Nariman Point in Mumbai, India, on August 8.(Hindustan Times)
People lined up for the double decker best bus at Nariman Point in Mumbai, India, on August 8.(Hindustan Times)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByAroosa Ahmed

By October 2023, Mumbai’s iconic double-decker buses, will go off the roads due to high operating costs and shrinking space on city roads.

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) said maintaining the massive vehicles was a challenge as it costs them more compared to the normal buses.

Introduced in 1937, the buses gained popularity, both among commuters and tourists. With an initial fleet of 141 in 1947-1948 it grew to 882 in 1993. At present, there are only 120 double-decker buses in a fleet of 3,337, operating on just seven routes in the city.

“These buses require twice the time for maintenance than normal BEST buses, making it difficult for the staff,” said a senior BEST official who did not want to be named. “Further, one of our main concerns is the extra man power required to operate them,” the official said,adding that plying the bulky buses on congested roads was becoming unviable.

The management plans to phase out the buses in two phases. 72 buses will be off the road by December 2020, and remaining 48 by October 2023, the official said.

“My memories with BEST double-decker buses date back 60 years,” said transport expert Ashok Datar. “There are many memories associated with the double-deckers, the most recent one being with my grandchildren. They were very excited and wanted to sit on the first seat of the bus on its upper deck. The management should not remove the buses as they not only have historical value but also help in ease the city’s congested traffic if there is enough planning.”

On Monday, the BEST administration proposed adding 993 buses to its fleet, increasing it from 3,337 to 4,050 by 2020.

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