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Why Mumbai’s public buses are bleeding? Only one of 402 BEST routes is profitable

The damning observation will again put pressure on BEST to speed up implementation of the 20-odd reforms suggested by the BMC

mumbai Updated: Apr 14, 2018 14:46 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai news,BEST
BEST is the second largest mode of public transport in Mumbai.(Hindustan Times)

Of the 402 bus routes operated by the in-the-red Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking in Mumbai and its neighbouring suburbs, only one route is profitable this year, said an official.

The damning observation will again put pressure on BEST to speed up implementation of the 20-odd reforms suggested by the BMC. The suggestions are aimed to mitigate ballooning losses.

A BEST official said the profitable route is between Churchgate station and Gateway of India, the famous tourist attraction in the city.

BEST has classified all routes into three categories: A, B and C, depending upon the earnings. The number of the routes in these categories varies every year.

The bus routes that break even or are profitable fall in A category. The B category has 83 routes that earn 63%-99% of the expenditure.

According to BEST, the last category has 465 routes that are least profitable. Officials said the number is more than the total number of routes (402) as one route can have more than one service. This means, in some cases, BEST considers one stretch, say between point A and B, as two routes — one from point A to B and the return journey as the other. One or two buses may be used for the round trip, said officials. Such routes are operated by more than one depot,

According to BEST officials, the route no 112 is in profit because it is shorter and connects one of the busiest suburban railway stations with the iconic tourist spot in the city.

Going through its worst-ever financial crisis with a cumulative loss of Rs1,759 crore, the number of commuters taking BEST buses dropped to 28 lakh daily. Experts said in the past few years, congestion has badly affected speed and frequency of BEST buses. This results in delays, forcing commuters to look for alternatives.

To overcome the financial crisis, the civic body had suggested around 20 reforms, including rationalisation of routes. All these were supposed to bring savings of up to Rs800 crore. The rationalisation is expected to bring savings of Rs100 crore.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 10:46 IST