BEST ride to get expensive from next month as Mumbai civic body sanctions fare hike
The monthly passes for school children have been increased from Rs50 to 100. These rates are likely to be applicable from April 1 subject to approval from transport authority.mumbai Updated: Mar 04, 2018 00:20 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) general body sanctioned a reform proposal to increase the fares of BEST buses for longer routes, monthly passes and bus passes for school children.
The general body meeting on Saturday, approved the proposed hike of Rs1-12 fare beyond 4km and Rs40-360 in monthly passes. The monthly passes for school children have been increased from Rs50 to 100. These rates are likely to be applicable from April 1 subject to approval from transport authority.
Currently, the minimum fare of BEST buses is Rs8 for 2km and Rs10 for 4km distance. According to the proposal, BEST has proposed no fare hike for distance up to 4km. Beyond that, the fare is proposed to be increased in the range of Rs1 to Rs12 depending on the distance. For instance, fare for 6km, which was Rs14 earlier has been increased to Rs15; fare for 8km has been increased from Rs16 to Rs18. Also, the daily buses pass for the entire city will cost Rs90 instead of the current Rs70; fare for a pass for the suburbs increased from Rs50 to Rs60 and for the island city it has been increased from Rs40 to Rs50.
The proposal was tabled as ‘urgent business’ in the general body. The BJP and Congress councillors alleged that they were not notified about the urgent business and the Shiv Sena sanctioned the proposal without discussing it with the group leaders.
Ravi Raja, leader of opposition in the BMC, said, “Why is Sena in a hurry to sanction the fare hike proposal? The BEST should give better services first before increasing the fares. I fail to understand the ruling party’s interest in hiking the BEST bus fares. Lately, Sena has been clearing several proposals without discussing with other parties as they fear that the proposals would face strong opposition.”
The BEST had proposed wet leasing of buses in which the contractor will take care of driver, fuel and maintenance of buses, along with restructuring of bus routes, freezing of dearness allowance of BEST employees, curtailing various allowances and schemes meant for them, as a part of the reform agenda. It was expected to bring savings of Rs700-800 crore, but BEST panel had rejected the proposal earlier.
However, it later on sanctioned most of the reform proposals including wet leasing of more than 450 buses. The proposal also involves restructuring more than 200 of its existing routes that are operating at losses of 40% or more.
This proposal was earlier passed by the BEST committee, the policy making body of the BEST. However, the fare hike did not go down well with the transport experts who have pressed upon improving the BEST services.
Ashok Datar, traffic analyst, said, “The fare hike will not help the BEST recover their losses. The authority may lose more commuters owing to the fare hike. The current rates are already very high. What the BEST should be focusing upon is improving their services to attract more commuters.”