Six Mini Air Conditioned (AC) buses were inaugurated by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) headquarter in Mumbai’s Colaba on September 16, Monday. The second lifeline, BEST, of the financial capital has inducted 21-seater AC buses in it’s fleet to provide laat-mile connectivity to it’s lacs of commuters across Mumbai and suburbs. Some of these 21-seater vehicles could ply as “conductor-less” buses on few office-going routes, sources said.
A total of 500 AC Mini buses are being inducted into the BEST fleet and they will arrive in batches. Reports state that after the induction of the six buses, their next lot will arrive only after the assembly elections in the state.
Shivsena Party President Shri. Uddhavsaheb Thackeray inaugrated the new BEST “mini” AC buses as an addition to the BEST fleet at Colaba, Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/SB1Dg4Q578
— ShivSena – शिवसेना (@ShivSena) September 16, 2019
Ajanta News spoke to the Public Relations Officer (PRO), BEST, Hanumant Gophane for more insights about the newly launched buses. Upon asking about the further plans after launching the buses, he mentioned, “We are planning to increase the fleet of 3000 buses to 6000 buses. Mini Mid AC, Non AC, Single-decker, etc. these types of buses would be launched step by step,” said Gophane to Ajanta News.
He further spoke about the route of the buses and said that as it was only a day since the buses were launched, the route is not yet decided and added that in one or two days they will decide the route of the buses. Furthermore, the PRO mentioned that the buses will be deployed on the feeder routes outside Railway and Metro stations and will provide last mile connectivity to the commuters.
“These buses will run on Feeder route, it will have point to point service that is from railway station or metro station to residence and colony. These routes are not yet decided, we’ll decide the feeder route in one or two days,” added the BEST officer.
While according to the other sources, the BEST has planned to run these buses outside some of the busy station areas such as Prabhadevi, Lower Parel, Malad and Goregaon besides deploying a significant number of buses on CSMT-Fort-Nariman Point and on Churchgate-Nariman Point-Cuffe Parade areas.
A decade ago, BEST had 290 AC buses in its fleet, but its undertaking discontinued the service from April 2017 due to heavy losses. Since then, BEST was operating only the regular bus services. The PRO was then questioned about the permanency of the newly launched buses. To which he said, “We’ve revised the fare of the buses, we’ve reduced the fare. For AC buses it’s Rs. 6 for 5 kms and for Non AC buses it’s Rs. 5 for 5 kms and these are same as the fares of regular BEST Buses. And such less fare is feasible for everyone and consequently, we are facing shortage of BEST buses on every route after the fare were reduced, so these buses will definitely run for longer period.”
Upon asking the officer about what new experience they would provide to the passengers, he said that travelling with such cheap fares will itself be a new experience for the commuters. He also mentioned that the people are happy to know about the new buses.
“Travelling with such cheap fares is the new experience for the passengers. You won’t find such cheap fares anywhere else. The people are very happy and our services are already good and so passengers will always be happy travelling with us. We read the comments of people on our Twitter handle and Facebook page, and they are all good comments. The people are happy with the launch of our mini mid buses and especially the cheap fares of AC buses are making people excited and contented,” mentioned Hanumant Gophane to Ajanta News.
He was also questioned about the fare structure of the conductor-less buses. To which he replied, “We’ve not started the conductor-less buses yet. The method of collection of fares in such buses will be decided once we get the plan, we’ve not got the plan yet. So, I won’t be able to tell you anything about it.”
While concluding the interview, we asked him if the new buses were launched considering the upcoming elections to attract the votes, he dodged the question tagging it a political one. “I won’t be able to comment on that as it is political in nature,” said Gopane while unveiling the details of the new plan to Ajanta News. The launch event of the buses was, however, reported to be preponed by a few days in the wake of the election code of conduct coming into effect later this week.