BEST presents its budget for next the financial year
Kunal Patil

The BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, on Saturday, stated to have an estimated deficit of Rs 1,887 crore in its budget for the fiscal year 2021 to 2022.

On Saturday, BEST manager Surendrakumar Bagde presented a budget estimate for the financial year 2021 to 2022 to the committee members in an outlay of Rs 446 crore for capital expenditure.

BEST will be proposing this estimated budget to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), highlighting its key aspects. Following this, funds will be allotted to the undertaking by the civic body.

The civic body had proposed a fund of Rs 1,500 crore in February for the transport undertaking. However, amidst the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the budget was slashed by Rs 300 crore due to revenue shortfall. Sources in BEST stated that the undertaking has received Rs 500 crore till now and the balance amount is due.

"The budget has been analysed and approved by the board members of the committee. This will be presented to BMC, following which they will be allocating funds for the future projects for the next financial year," BEST chairman Praveen Shinde told the Free Press Journal.

The undertaking stated that it will be expanding its fleet in a phased manner. BEST plans to have 6,337 buses by March 2022 in the first phase.

Presently, BEST has 3,875 buses, including 1,099 buses that are being procured on wet lease. The undertaking also mentioned that 300 electric buses are being ordered and bids have been invited for 600 single decker CNG buses.

"The pandemic showed everyone how important road transport services can be. Our main focus in the following financial year will be to augment our fleet to its maximum capacity, as our ridership is increasing day by day," stated a senior BEST official.

Another key aspect of the budget has been the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS). Following the Centre's 'One Nation One Card' for all transport systems scheme, BEST will be launching its own smart fare collection system, in which commutters would be able to avail transport services using one common smart card.

"This card will be applicable to all types of public passenger transport sector. The testing of this scheme started in October 2020. After this test, the scheme will be implemented on an experimental basis at Colaba and Wadala depots," stated BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade.

The transport undertaking also mentioned that, in the following financial year, it plans to install passenger information systems in 800 bus stops, which will give live updates of the bus movements around the city.

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Free Press Journal