‘BEST foot forward? Not really’
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‘BEST foot forward? Not really’

Oppn not convinced about authority’s plans for more buses, new tech, but experts are happy

mumbai Updated: Oct 09, 2018 00:07 IST
BEST to increase number of mini and midi buses(HT Photo)

With its proposal to add 993 buses to its existing fleet of 3,337 and adopt new technology, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has kick-started its plan to revive the city’s second-largest mass transport system. However, experts and the Opposition are not on the same page.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the parent organisation of BEST, had suggested long and short-term measures to revive BEST, which has seen its number of daily commuters drop from 45 lakh to 29 lakh. In its plan, the undertaking emphasised on smaller mini and midi electric buses that would suit the city’s congested roads along with air-conditioned buses that would attract commuters.

While experts have welcomed the proposals, which also include the implementation of a mobile application that lets commuters track real-time locations of their routes, a ticketing system using QR codes, credit and debit cards, online transaction, and computer systems to improve the body’s efficiency, Opposition parties were not impressed.

Ashok Datar, transport expert, believes that BEST needs to promote and market its proposals. “With the introduction of new buses, the management should plan proper promotions to attract new passengers,” he said.

“BEST should introduce feeder routes as the longer routes make no profit. The market of share auto rickshaws and taxis can be easily captured. Feeder routes and buses every five minutes from railway and metro stations will help make profits,” said AV Shenoy, transport expert.

While presenting its budget for the current financial year, BEST management had proposed to induct a total of 800 buses in fleet on wet-lease — where the driver is provided by the contractor — but the plan did not materialise, resulting in fewer buses for BEST. Even its plan of procuring 100 mini buses under the Tejaswini scheme of the state government and 40 AC midi electric buses under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric (FAME) scheme, has not materialised yet.

Meanwhile, the Opposition has questioned the budget and said the organisation is losing its opportunity to grow . “It is a statistical budget and has nothing new for passengers or electricity consumers. The budget is not growth-oriented and the future does not look good,” said Ravi Raja, committee member, BEST. He said neither BMC nor the state government is helping the loss-making undertaking.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 00:06 IST