Mumbai: Commuters and transport experts have expressed disappointment over the decision taken by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to increase the bus fares on the longer routes. Commuters said that instead of increasing the fares they should have improved the bus frequency which they feel is never punctual.
The experts said that increasing the fare may reduce the existing ridership of the transport service. “The way in which they have increased fares is unjust. If the undertaking increased fares for each kilometre covered by Rs 2 proportionately, commuters would have still digested it. The BEST must look at controlling their operational expenses rather than passing on the burden of their inefficiencies on to commuters,” said one of the experts.
According to the proposal, the fare increase starts after six kilometres, with an adult passenger paying Rs 14 to Rs 15 more on ordinary non-air conditioned buses. The highest fare is now Rs 62, up from Rs 50, for a distance of 50 kilometres. The fare hike also affects commuters taking monthly and quarterly passes.
Most of the commuters complaint of increased bus fare as it was a pointless decision taken by the BEST for increasing the bus fares on longer routes by Rs 2 or Rs 5. “The BEST authorities should have increased the frequency of the buses instead of increasing bus fares. As it is the buses are never on time due to which it gets too crowded and we are not able to board the bus. Hence, paying more is not worth it,” said RS Mishra, who rides every day from Byculla to Kalbadevi.
Earlier, the BEST had suspended the movement of air-conditioned (AC) buses in 2017 after it claimed that maintaining these buses was too expensive. Over the years, officials have complained that they are losing ridership to taxis, rickshaws and app-based cabs. The BEST records a ridership of 26 lakh on a daily basis.
“The fare hike further contributes to BEST losing ridership to taxis and app-based cabs. It is high time the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) takes over the undertaking and runs it like a public utility and not a business enterprise,” added expert.