Not the BEST of both worlds: Bus passengers rise, but earnings dip
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Tuesday, the first day of the implementation of the fare cut, got five lakh more passengers than the previous day, but its earnings dipped considerably.
The fares have been reduced to ₹5-20 for regular and ₹6-25 for AC buses. BEST saw 22.18 lakh passengers on Tuesday, compared to 17.15 lakh the previous day – a rise of 29%.
On the flip side, the ticket box earnings, however, dipped by ₹67 lakh (32%), from ₹2.12 crore the previous day.
“The actual number of travelers was even more, but the details of passholders are currently unavailable,” said a BEST spokesperson, on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
On Tuesday, a large number of passengers were seen waiting at bus stops. The AC buses plying on the routes connecting to Bandra-Kurla Complex were heavily crowded.
Passengers now want BEST to focus on improving the quality, punctuality, as well as frequency.
The move, however, impacted taxi and autorickshaw drivers, especially those running the share-a-vehicle services, adversely.
“Usually autorickshaw drivers charge ₹15 for a passenger from the western express highway to Borivli station, but on Wednesday, they charged me just ₹10. With the BEST fare cut, they are forced to slash their fares as well,” said Shashank Ghanekar, a Kandivli resident.
Currently, BEST has a fleet of 3,200 buses, which includes 25 AC buses.
In the next six months, 480 more buses, including 80 electric buses, will be inducted. BEST officials said owing to the limited number of buses in the fleet, they have restrictions on adding new routes.
Gradually, they plan to improve the route network, adding more feeder bus routes to railway and metro stations, besides newly developed areas.
Most citizens have welcomed the fare cut, with some even urging others to avail of the service on social media.