Mumbai: BEST cuts down nearly 1,000 buses

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) have cut down its fleet by almost 1,000 buses during this partial lockdown. Sources said that even the number of bus services has been cut by 10 percent due to the dropping passenger numbers. The BEST has already approached the BMC to buy 200 double decker buses which now stands at 45 buses.

Over the past few days since new guidelines came into force from April first week, the daily bus passenger count has fluctuated anywhere between 11-16 lakh. This used to be 25-27 lakh prior to this. However, the second wave of Covid-19 has affected the undertaking’s staff right from their drivers, conductors, maintenance staff and those from the depots.

“The daily bus turnout has been curtailed by at least 10 percent. During weekends, it was brought down by over 30 percent as per holiday schedule,” said a BEST union leader.

As per the current bus schedule, the BEST owns a fleet of 2,068 buses which includes 23 AC ones. Their total owned bus fleet was over 3,000 buses which are being slowly reduced. The BEST is instead operating wet-lease buses, which are owned by private contractors. There are around 1,150 such buses running throughout the city.

In fact from April 22, the BEST is replacing the regular buses on three routes with wet-lease ones, starting from Deonar depot. “In these times of pandemic when there is a need to breathe fresh air, the BEST is operating more AC buses on wet-lease,” said Yash S, BEST enthusiast. On April 19, the BEST operated 3,311 buses and ferried 16.19 lakh passengers.

Meanwhile the BEST Undertaking is again pushing to get additional double decker buses in their fleet. “We are working out a way to procure 200 double decker buses, which has been an important part of our public transit system. We will start expediting it once this pandemic slows down,” said BEST Chairman, Ashish Chemburkar. This financial year, at least 100 of these buses could come in.

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