In an attempt to augment its fleet, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has requested 500 additional buses on wet lease from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).
Presently, BEST has an operational fleet of 4,500 buses which includes 3,500 BEST buses and 1,000 buses already procured from the MSRTC on wet-lease at a rate of Rs 70 per km. The ridership of BEST has also crossed the 24 lakh mark in November and with locals not resuming service anytime soon, BEST expects its daily ridership to rise to 30 lakhs before the end of this year.
"Now that it's still unclear from when locals will start operation people will be dependent on buses only for their commute, hence we are planning to augment our fleet as much as we can" stated a senior official.
The official also maintained an additional 500 buses would also help the undertaking to maintain distancing inside the buses.
"Experts have already predicted a possibility of the second wave, meanwhile we are also operating our buses as per full seating capacity hence having extra buses would help us maintaining distance," the official added.
Meanwhile, officials in the MSRTC have not clarified their stand on BEST's request although they have acknowledged receiving the request.
"Along with buses we will have to provide drivers and conductors to BEST as well, this is a long process we are yet to take any decision on this matter," stated an MSRTC official.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, former municipal corporator - Sunil Ganacharya was re-appointed as a committee member in the BEST panel along with senior BJP corporator Ram Barot who was also inducted as a member of the BEST committee.