BEST fare revision proposed, cheaper commute on cards
Commuters can expect some relief, as the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply of Transport (BEST) has proposed to revise its fares. If brought into effect, the minimum fare will be reduced to Rs 5 for 5km, against the current Rs 8 for 2km. The new structure will also reduce the minimum fare for AC buses to Rs 6 for 5km from ₹30 for 2km.
What’s more: The new structure may also mean commuters can travel across the length and breadth of the city by paying not more than Rs 25. This is because BEST has proposed that maximum fare for regular and AC buses be set at Rs 20 and Rs 25, respectively.
The proposal will be tabled before the BEST committee on Friday, said officials. It will then be sent to the regional transport authority for a final nod.
Currently, commuters pay Rs 15, Rs 22, Rs 32 and Rs 34 for distances of 5km, 10km, 15km, and 20km, respectively, in regular buses. For AC buses, they pay fares of Rs 30, Rs 40, Rs 55, and Rs 65, for the same distance slabs. Beyond 50km, commuters pay additional Rs 5 and Rs 10 per 5km for regular and AC buses. Under the proposed scheme, commuters will pay Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20 to travel 5km, 10km, 15km and beyond 15km, respectively, in regular buses. To cover the same distances in AC buses, commuters will pay Rs 6, Rs 13, Rs 18 and Rs 25. The BEST will add 200 mini-AC buses to its fleet.
Civic chief Praveen Pardeshi had set several preconditions, including reduction of bus fares, in exchange for giving the undertaking Rs 100crore as financial aid per month. The aid is to continue till the budgets of the BEST and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are merged.
However, while this is good news for commuters, the move may cause further losses to the undertaking. On the other hand, the move is expected to increase ridership and reduce congestion in the city. Ridership of BEST dropped to 22 lakh in 2018-19 from 43 lakh in 2009-10.
Experts have welcomed the move, but pointed out that it will take more than reduction in fares to win back trust of the citizens. They said the undertaking must focus on improving punctuality, apart from prioritising services around railway and Metro stations. “Along with the fare restructuring, BEST must plan its routes and timetables better,” said Vivek Pai, transport expert.
Meahwhile, opposition parties have reacted with caution. Mumbai unit Congress president Milind Deora said he hoped BEST does not increase power bills to compensate for discounted fares. “I appreciate the concern of the municipal commissioner, but it should not be temporary,” said Sachin Ahir, president of NCP’s Mumbai unit.