BL Soni

Mumbai: In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak thateventually led to the close down of suburban railway services, theBrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport had prepared a jointplan with the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) onSunday to provide special service to personnels of essential sevicesectors. However, the transport undertaking was clear on its standthat it wouldn’t allow common Mumbaikars to avail the bus services.

Meanwhile, on Monday, atleast 70 per cent of the buses were pressed into service. This agitated the BEST union, as they labelled the decision to be an example of mismanagement."There are no passengers. Still BEST has pressed more than 70 percent of its buses. This will lead to severe exploitation of fuel and logistics," said JM Kahar."BEST has prohibited the entry of common people in the buses.

It shouldn't do so. If people are out on the streets, it's because theyhave some emergency. BEST is known to be the lifeline of the city.Instead of cooperating, the management is behaving in an ignorantmanner," Kahar added.Since the last one week, there has been an increase in the number ofCOVID-19 cases. This has lead to a downfall in bus ridership.Following the fare reduction in July 2019, BEST used to record a dailyridership of 35 lakhs. While the virus outbreak, the last recorded ridership stands at 22 lakh commuters.

Also, on monday, most of the buses ran empty, especially airconditioned mini buses that are being procured on a wet lease."Atleast, the management should curtail the service of AC mini buses.They are standing empty and these buses are procured on wet lease. So,anyway, we have to pay the contractors if we take the bus out, even ifthere are no passengers," said the union member.Meanwhile, commenting on this, a senior BEST official stated, "BEST buses are being pressed for emergency services and if there are lesserbuses, the frequency will be low. We cannot afford to run buses on alower frequency during this time of trial."

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