Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport undertaking seems to be gearing up for direct competition with app-based bus operators and aggregator cabs. The public transporter plans to introduce luxury buses from Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo and draw in passengers who prefer travelling by road in air-conditioned comfort – they can work, browse or make calls en route or simply catch a power nap – without having to keep an anxious eye on the road or the fuel gauge.
These buses will operate on fixed routes and have limited halts, starting from the western and eastern suburbs of Borivli and Thane and going to south Mumbai. According to sources in BEST, currently, internal discussions are underway on the various prerequisites to ensure the arrival of the luxury entrants into their fleet after duly going through the tendering process. The cost of these single-decker AC luxury buses will be more than Rs 1.5-2 crore, depending on the rates quoted by the contractors during the tendering process.
“We are working out plans to introduce top-end luxury buses for a different category of clientele. We want to operate these buses on routes catered to by app-based bus and cab operators and target those riders who are particular about a comfortable ride. The fares will naturally be higher than the regular fares. We are looking at targeting corporate entities for the same,” said a senior BEST official on condition of anonymity.
These buses will be similar to the luxury buses that currently ply on inter-city routes. Apart from cushioned seats and headrests, there will be laptop and mobile charging points on every seat, bottled water will be available and importantly, limited halts between the suburbs and the city, among other amenities.
These halts will depend on the route, the number of passengers, a common office destination like the Bandra-Kurla Complex, Worli, Nariman Point, Lower Parel and Prabhadevi. The starting points are likely to be from Thane, Mulund and Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs and Borivli, Goregaon and Andheri in the western suburbs. However, pick-up and drop points will depend on the demand.
App-based bus operators operate on different routes, connecting residential hubs in Thane and Navi Mumbai to commercial and office hubs, by running buses with limited halts.