Fleet of A/C buses affect auto business in Mumbai

Fleet of A/C buses affect auto business in Mumbai

The 63 air-conditioned buses with a seating capacity of 21 seats and over a dozen standees have been deployed in as many as 12 routes.

Pratip AcharyaUpdated: Monday, February 03, 2020, 07:45 AM IST
article-image

The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has, over the last two months, pressed 63 new airconditioned buses into service in the western suburbs of the city, which BEST officials say is the first time that such a large number of AC buses have been introduced in a single suburban area in the city. The move has come as a blow to autorickshaw drivers who were fleecing commuters by charging them unreasonably high rates in the absence of feeder bus services.

The 63 air-conditioned buses with a seating capacity of 21 seats and over a dozen standees have been deployed in as many as 12 routes mainly in Andheri and areas in close proximity with the Andheri station like Saat Bungalow, Veera Desai road, Jogeshwari and Oshiwara. The undertaking is meant for commuters who had to face regular woes during peak hours.

Andheri is a hub of auto-rickshaws so the emergence of air-conditioned buses has led to the ire of autorickshaw unions as it will affect their business.

"During peak hours sharing auto-rickshaws used to charge double the price per seat as there was no alternative," said Rakeysh Soni, (48) who recently switched to BEST buses from auto-rickshaws.

The minimum fare of a BEST AC bus is Rs 6 whereas the minimum fare in a sharing rickshaw is Rs 20 however the price varies as per the distance travelled.

"BEST buses are not just cheaper, but also safer. In a sharing rickshaw often they accommodate four people, which is unsafe as well as illegal as per traffic norms," stated Shweta Mistry an IT sector employee and a daily commuter between Versova to Andheri station.

Commuters initially had to wait longer time as the frequency was less, however since January the frequency of buses in most routes have doubled. Passengers who had to pay as much as Rs 50 to the auto-rickshaws at the City Mall premises of Andheri's Link Road, during peak hours in the evening on sharing basis now travel for Rs 6 flat to Andheri west stations. The same passengers used to wait for buses in a queue during peak hours.

"The syndicate used to charge Rs 45-50 for a shared seat at times but now we can travel for Rs 6. Also the frequency has increased as there is an AC bus in every 10 minutes," said Ram Gopal (51).

Meanwhile, the Autorickshaw syndicate states they will have a dialogue with the BEST union in February as the new buses are eating up their business.

"Introduction of BEST buses will eat into our business. The administration try to arm-twist us in such manner when they want us to pay them 'hafta' for running our business" alleged Imtiaz Ansari, general secretary at the Andheri auto-rickshaw syndicate.

Furthermore, Ansari said they do have a fixed pricing but in peak traffic hours they tend to charge passengers more because they have to take longer alternative routes to ensure they reach their destinations on time.

"Link road has huge traffic congestion during peak hours everyday. We often take an alternative longer route to Andheri which results to more fuel consumption, that is why we charge more during the peak hours only when we have no other options," added Ansari.

Commenting on this, BEST spokesperson and senior Public Relations Officer (PRO) Manoj Varade stated, the AC buses are a clear winner in suburban Mumbai. "Buses in a single trip can accommodate more than forty people. The bus covers busy stretches like Saat Bungalow, Oshiwara and Link Road, the price and comfort are the USP for which it is a hit among the passengers," said Varade.

Furthermore Varade informed that buses with an average of more than 12 trips daily has caused a dent into more than 5000 autorickshaw trips everyday. "With the success in Andheri and it's adjoining areas, BEST will be introducing more feeder buses in the suburbs and with time accelerate the frequency as well," Varade added.

RECENT STORIES

Bombay HC Refuses To Grant Bail To Man Booked For Gangraping Minor In 2020

Bombay HC Refuses To Grant Bail To Man Booked For Gangraping Minor In 2020

Solvyns' People Of Bengal-DAG Exhibition, Travels To Mumbai For The First Time

Solvyns' People Of Bengal-DAG Exhibition, Travels To Mumbai For The First Time

Mira-Bhayander: Banker Loses ₹31 Lakh To Online Stock Fraud

Mira-Bhayander: Banker Loses ₹31 Lakh To Online Stock Fraud

'I Will Not Vote For ...': Shiv Sena UBT Chief Uddhav Thackeray Makes Big Revelation Ahead Of Lok...

'I Will Not Vote For ...': Shiv Sena UBT Chief Uddhav Thackeray Makes Big Revelation Ahead Of Lok...

Salman Khan Residence Firing: Mumbai Crime Branch Launches Search For Gun In Tapi River

Salman Khan Residence Firing: Mumbai Crime Branch Launches Search For Gun In Tapi River