The days of limited edition double deckers may soon be history. Their 'tribe' is likely to increase, as the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has invited tenders for procuring 100 of the two-storied buses.
"Presently, we have invited tenders mentioning the salient features. These buses will be owned by the BEST and not be leased," stated BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade. The buses will arrive in a phased manner and if everything goes as planned, the first set of buses are expected to arrive by early 2021, according to Varade.
Currently, there are 120 double decker buses in the BEST fleet. Earlier this year, nearly 900 BEST buses were scrapped, 60 of which were the iconic double deckers, as these were long past their prime age of 15 years.
Although the new buses will be non-airconditioned, they will have smart and salient features like two separate 'smart' doorways for entry and exit, two staircases, CCTV cameras, intercom service for communication with the bus driver and between the conductors in the upper and lower decks and an automated gear system. The buses will have a seating capacity of 70 passengers and will run on diesel.
The BEST is now operating 4,500 buses at present, including 3,500 BEST buses (both owned and wet-leased) and 1,000 buses leased from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).