The daily ridership of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has increased twelve times than what it was on the initial days of unlocking in Mumbai.
This week BEST ridership has touched the 23 lakh mark and it is expected that by the end of this month, the ridership could surge beyond 25 lakh. Earlier in June, when BEST resumed its operations for common Mumbaikars the average daily ridership was 2 lakh passengers per day, in August the ridership crossed 12 lakh mark and it touched 18 lakh by mid-September.
BEST officials attributed the opening up of various sectors and limited operation of suburban railways for such a steep rise in ridership.
"Now as more and more sectors are unlocking, more people are relying on the BEST buses for the commute as local trains are also not fully operational," said BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade.
This week, on Monday BEST has ferried 23.34 lakh commuters and on Tuesday it had ferried around 23.18 lakh passengers. Prior to the lockdown, the daily ridership of BEST was around 32 lakh commuters.
BEST officials informed - before the undertaking had slashed bus fares on 2019, the average ridership in BEST buses was between 23-25 lakhs.
"Considering we have touched the 23 lakh mark at a time in the pandemic has shown how important these red buses are, both the committee and administration will now be working towards bettering its fleet," said BEST chairman - Praveen Shinde.
The ridership of BEST buses has also doubled on weekends. Earlier on weekends, the undertaking used to ferry around 8 lakh commuters, however, on last weekend the red buses had ferried around 15 lakh commuters.
Due to the rise in ridership, the revenue generation has also improved. Presently BEST has a daily revenue generation around Rs 2 crores which was around 15 lakhs in June.
"Various sectors have now started operation and BEST has emerged to become the lifeline of the city as the trains are operational. Schools will also be reopened by end of this month and we hope the ridership will coss the 25 lakh by end of this month" said a senior BEST official.
BEST presently is operating a fleet of 4,500 buses of which 3,500 are its own and 1,000 buses are being leased from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).