The Mumbai Metro resumed services on Monday after seven months but the load on the BEST buses doesn't seem to ease. The Mumbai metro connects Andheri West's Versova area with Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs. The commercial areas like JB Nagar, Marol and Mittal Industrial Estate fall under this metro route.
With the suburban railway services suspended, the BEST has become the lifeline of Mumbaikars. On Monday, people stood in long queues at bus stops. Several commutters complained of overcrowding during peak hours.
The BEST depot managers and traffic department officials attributed that buses that run on shorter routes throughout the suburban belt have recorded lower ridership comparatively. “There are some buses which connect Andheri and JB Nagar to the Ghatkopar, Kurla and Vidya Vihar. We believe the crowds in these routes will be lesser as people will prefer metros over buses," said a depot manager.
He mentioned that the metros are operating with minimum passengers, the reason why people still prefer BEST. “With addition of MSRTC buses, the frequency of long-distance BEST buses have improved. People have no other option other than BEST buses, in order to travel to the island city from the suburban belts," said a traffic official.
Currently, BEST has a ridership of 20 lakh passengers per day and by the end of October the management expects the ridership to increase by 2 lakh.
The officials also asserted, unless local trains resume their operation the load on BEST buses won't ease. Many passengers also preferred to travel by sharing auto rickshaws instead of availing metro services.
Thampi Kurien, general secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen's Association said, “The areas which are covered by the Mumbai metro have industrial zones. People board sharing autos, which are easily available and is cheaper. Rickshaws are also safer compared to metros," stated Kurien.