BEST’s fare cut brings back commuters to buses in Mumbai
The first day of the implementation of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking’s reduced fares proved to be a success, with commuters thronging bus stops and major routes seeing crowded buses.
BEST has slashed fares of its regular as well AC buses to ₹5-₹20, and ₹6-₹25, respectively for the distance slabs of 5km, 10km, 15km and beyond 15km. So far, passengers had to pay ₹8 and ₹20 as minimum fare for regular and AC buses respectively, for a distance of 2km.
The air-conditioned buses that ply to and from Bandra-Kurla Complex, mostly vacant during non-peak hours, saw rush through the day. “We saw a lot of rush at Bandra. We need to get more buses as soon as possible. This will increase people’s confidence in BEST,” said Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager of BEST.
Currently, BEST has just 25 AC buses in its fleet of 3,200 buses.
At some locations, such as outside Mahalaxmi station, BEST staff was seen appealing to passengers to travel on buses through megaphones, informing them that BEST’s minimum fare has been slashed. “I couldn’t find a cab in the morning, so I boarded the first bus that came ...I was pleasantly surprised as the fare which should’ve been ₹15 had been reduced to ₹5,” said Fenil Shah, a citizen.
Most commuters welcomed the move, but said BEST needed to increase its fleet size, besides improving service quality, punctuality, and frequency. They also want BEST to introduce smart card tickets and launch the much-delayed app on the expected arrival time. “People in Mumbai are always in a hurry and are ready to pay more to reach on time. What’s the use of cheaper fare if buses will arrive late,” said Avinash Jadhav, a Borivli resident.
Conductors, however, said due to the fare cut, arguments over loose change will increase. “Passengers will travel for ₹10, instead of ₹27, but what about the difference of ₹17. Ultimately, BEST will have to bear the loss,” said a BEST staffer.