The daily ridership in the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking buses has touched the 25 lakh-mark in December. This is the highest single day ridership the transport undertaking recorded after the lockdown was lifted in June 2020.
In the last week of December, BEST maintained an average daily ridership over 24.5 lakh passengers on weekdays and throughout the month of December BEST had an average daily ridership of 24 lakh passengers, which is higher than the average ridership of 2018 and 2019. According to senior BEST officials, the average daily ridership in the undertaking ranged between 23 lakh and 24 lakh between 2018 and 2019. However, following the fare reduction in 2019, the BEST ridership shot up to 35 lakh passengers per day.
Following the pandemic outbreak, the BEST ridership had recorded an all-time low ridership of 1.5 lakh daily commuters between May and June. Following which it increased in a phased manner as unlocking continued.
BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said that the ridership in BEST buses has been growing steadily and the frequency of the buses have also improved in the past five months.
At present BEST has a fleet of 4,700 buses including 1,000 buses it has procured from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). Before the pandemic outbreak, BEST had a fleet of 3,700 buses. However, in the past five months, the undertaking expanded its fleet by 25 per cent by adding more buses on wet-lease.
"In the absence of suburban railways, BEST buses have become the lifeline for Mumbaikars throughout November and December we have operated more than 4,200 buses daily" Varade told FPJ.
With the increase in ridership, the revenue of BEST has also increased. Throughout the month of December, the undertaking generated daily revenue of more than Rs 2 crore through ticket sales.
In the New Year, BEST is all set to increase the number of electric buses (e-buses) in its fleet. Nearly 340 e-buses are expected to join the BEST fleet in 2021 and by March 2022, the undertaking has planned to expand its fleet to 6,000 plus buses.
New bus changing points are being set up at Worli, Shivaji Nagar and Malvani depots and by 2021 ten more depots will be equipped with charging facilities for its e-buses.