The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) staff is up in arms after the Undertaking decided to get buses on wet lease. They said the decision to pay drivers of these buses Rs 900 per day is like adding fuel to the fire.
The BEST unions claim that they will intensify this protest in the coming days if demands are not met. On Sunday, the Corporation inaugurated 60 single-decker AC e-buses on wet-lease that will connect Mumbai airport with BKC and Gateway of India.
On Tuesday, the drivers and employees held protests at different bus depots. They held placards and stood inside and outside the depots after their work shifts. They have three demands – retain 3,337 BEST-owned buses in the fleet; drivers not be hired as part of a wet-lease; merge BEST budget with that of the BMC.
BEST union leader Shashank Rao said most depots witnessed protests. He added, “The BEST administration should stop getting drivers along with wet-lease buses. They should also retain their own bus fleet as promised to us.”
This comes at a time when the BEST is on an overdrive in bringing in electric buses in its fleet. The e-buses launched on Sunday will run on a point-to-point basis from Mumbai airport.
The bus routes on T2-BKC and T2-Gateway of India will run 16 times in a day on each route. The fare of T2-BKC is Rs 75. The fare for T2-Nehru Planetarium is Rs 125, T2-CSMT is Rs 150, and Rs 175 on T2-Trident Hotel and till Gateway. On T2-Gateway of India route, there will be four different halts.
The BEST broadly has plans of getting 2,100 AC e-buses. Sources said by 2027 all buses will become electric and by March 2023, 50 per cent of their fleet will be electric. The BEST is intending to add 1,400 single-decker AC e-buses, 200 double-decker AC e-buses, 400 midi AC e-buses, and 100 mini AC e-buses to its fleet.
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