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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Mumbai citizens group writes letter to Fadnavis and Thackeray, tells them to end BEST bus strike

Group of Mumbaiites also suggests steps to make BEST better

mumbai Updated: Jan 11, 2019 00:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
BEST labour unions protest outside Wadala bus depot on Thursday.
BEST labour unions protest outside Wadala bus depot on Thursday.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

With the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) staff strike motoring along for a third day without any apparent end to the stalemate between labour unions and the management, a group of Mumbaiites on Thursday wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, urging them to intervene and end the strike. The citizens also suggested ways for the government and BEST administration to improve bus services.

Nearly 29 lakh regular BEST bus commuters — the second largest mode of transport in the city — have been facing a harrowing public commute after the unions began their strike over better pay, among other demands, from Monday midnight. The government’s relief measures such as more state buses, permission for private buses to ferry passengers and extra suburban services have not been enough to relieve commuters of overcharging autorickshaw and taxi drivers, crowding in trains or traffic snarls.

The citizens, who have formed the Mumbai Mobility Forum, have asked Fadnavis and Thackeray to introduce citizen and environment-centric measures before the 2019 elections that could lead to its earlier ridership of 44 lakh passengers a day. The forum stated that the state needed to strengthen road-based public transport the same way as it did with the Metro and suburban local train networks.

The steps for improving BEST operations included operating every second BEST bus as an AC one, with 50% higher fares; dedicated bus lanes; 75% faster buses; increased frequency of buses from 40 seconds to 1.5 minutes; 500 more buses and ensure there are matching numbers of drivers, conductors, along with enhancing employee benefits, fuel and revenue, which would lead to passenger productivity.

The other suggestion was for the management to make bus systems as essential citizen services and treat BEST as an important department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), clear arrears of staff, consider the demand for bus of the employees and the union agreeing to reduce the absenteeism and increase the ratio of employees have been mentioned in the suggestions. The letter was signed by transport experts Ashok Datar, A V Shenoy, Sonali Kelkar and others.

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 23:42 IST

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