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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Mumbai commuters may have to pay more to travel in BEST buses

Fare hike and other reforms proposed must be implemented to increase revenue and tide over financial crisis, says BEST administration

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2017 15:56 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
The BEST has been making huge losses, and on Tuesday presented a Rs 880.88 crore deficit budget.
The BEST has been making huge losses, and on Tuesday presented a Rs 880.88 crore deficit budget.(HT File)

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking is thinking of hiking bus fares by up to Rs 12 for distances over four km, as one of the steps to overcome its financial crisis.

The BEST administration on Tuesday presented a Rs 880.88 crore deficit budget, but said the deficit could be reduced to Rs 228 crore if it is allowed to implement the proposed reforms, which includes the fare hike.

The proposal is already being considered by the BEST Committee, which is the Undertaking’s policy-making body, along with other reforms such as freezing of dearness allowance, cancelling other allowances and offering voluntary retirement.

Currently, the minimum fare in BEST buses is Rs 8 for a distance of two km. The BEST has proposed no fare hike up to four km. Beyond that distance, the hike proposed is between Re 1 and Rs 12, depending on the distance.

In May 2016, the BEST revised its fares, slashing the tickets of its air-conditioned buses, which it has now discontinued. However, the non-AC bus fares had remained untouched. Though the political nominees on the BEST panel and the ruling party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are opposing the hike, the administration is insisting that the price of tickets will have to rise to reduce losses and increase revenue.

BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde said that it is possible to cut deficit by around Rs 660 crore if all the reforms suggested are adopted before the end of this financial year. “It is going to be a very high Rs 880.88 crore deficit budget, but if we implement the reforms and make some changes, we can substantially reduce the budget deficit,” he said while speaking to media.

Some transport experts in the city are opposed to the fare hike. They argue that the BMC, which is the parent body of the BEST, and the state government should subsidise the bus service. A fare hike may discourage commuters from using buses and could mean more vehicles on the roads, and therefore, a rise in traffic congestion, they said.

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 15:56 IST

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