Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport panel strikes down fare-cut plan
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport’s (BEST) committee, the decision-making body, on Friday rejected the proposal to reduce fares.
The panel has decided to postpone this plan until BEST comes up with another one to attract more commuters.
On Thursday, BEST proposed that its minimum fare be brought down to Rs 5 for 5km against the current Rs 8 for 2km in regular buses and for AC buses, to Rs 6 for 5km from the current Rs 30 for 2km. It also proposed that the maximum fare on regular and AC buses be set at Rs 20 and Rs 25, respectively.
The BEST committee members expressed concern that the transport undertaking would end up losing revenue if it reduced fares without increasing its bus fleet and adding necessary infrastructure.
The panel, therefore, asked BEST to submit a fresh proposal with details about the fleet increase, parking space, staff recruitment and the proposed system that will inform passengers about bus schedules at stops.
“BEST has registered an order for only 530 buses until now. How it will bring the remaining buses on roads within three months?” asked Sunil Ganacharya, a senior BEST committee member from the BJP. “If BEST barely has any parking space for 4,500 buses at all its depots, then where will it park the rest? The administration should have presented a complete plan to the committee.”
The panel members also raised doubts about BEST’s plan to procure 3,000 buses within three months — a condition set by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in order for it to infuse a monthly financial aid of Rs 100 crore. They claimed that it is “practically impossible” to buy so many buses within three months, reasoning that BEST neither has the adequate staff to run them nor the space to park them.
According to the panel members, it takes BEST at least seven to eight months to recruit additional staff.
Bhushan Patil, a congress member of the committee, said BEST also has to reduce commuters’ waiting time at bus stops. “Presently, people wait for at least 20 to 25 minutes until the next bus arrives. That should be brought down before they think of bringing down fares,” he said.
The BEST’s administration defended its proposal.
“Our aim is to increase BEST’s daily ridership from 22 lakh to 50 lakh. We will also issue a tender for 1,000 AC buses within 15 days,” said Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager of BEST. “We will table a fresh proposal soon.”