Soon, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) can add 80 electric buses out of which 40 will be air-conditioned. This comes after it got a nod from the Bombay High Court.
According to the Hindustan Times, the BEST’s policy-making body received a conditional nod from the Bombay High Court to get the e-buses on wet lease, which the workers’ unions were objecting to. The wet lease model is a leasing arrangement where a private operator pays for the driver and maintenance of the buses. Earlier, the BEST Workers’ Union had challenged the hiring of 450 e-buses on wet lease.
Shashank Rao, leader of BEST Workers’ Union told the leading daily, “The HC has given the nod to hire only 80 electric buses, but the court order states it will be subject to industrial court’s decision.” While confirming of buying 80 electric buses, Surendra Kumar Bagde, general manager of BEST, told the leading daily, “We have placed an order for 80 e-buses. BEST will get a subsidy of Rs 50 crore for these e-buses under FEMA, a scheme of the Centre. We will get more buses and more subsidy.”
The BEST, which is facing a financial crisis for the past few years, has been witnessing a drop in commuters. The BEST fleet size also dipped from 4,700 to 3,200. Some members of the BEST had suggested that a fresh loan from the civic body on a low-interest rate. To this, Bagde said, “Currently, we are forced to take a loan to repay an old loan.”