On Day 4 of Mission Begin Again, BEST services get better

With each passing day of Mission Begin Again, the number of passengers commuting by BEST buses has been steadily increasing.

According to spokesperson Manoj Varade, on June 8 (Monday), the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport undertaking had operated nearly 2,200 buses and ferried 4.19 lakh commuters, generating revenue worth Rs 40.44 lakh. On Tuesday, the BEST increased its operational fleet to 2,308, and ferried 4.73 lakh passengers, earning a revenue of Rs 45.53 lakh and on Wednesday, the BEST carried 5.26 lakh passengers in 2,433 of its buses, earning Rs 48.63 lakh.

Since Day 1 of Mission Begin Again, long queues have been seen at the bus stops. With the suburban railways being non-operational, the BEST is the only public transportation option available for Mumbaikars. The transport undertaking, on its part, has been steadily increasing the number of buses in operation, to keep up with commuter demand.

"We have run close to 70 per cent of our buses in the first three days of Mission Begin Again. Based on day-to-day analysis, we have been taking steps accordingly," said a senior BEST official.

"The demand is higher than usual and we are pressing more and more buses into service every day. Things will improve once we assess passenger demand after the completion of one week," said the official.

BEST has a fleet of nearly 3,400 buses across 27 depots in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). During the lockdown, the undertaking had been running 1,200-1,400 buses regularly, for essential service providers.

However, providing frontline service in the pandemic has cost the undertaking dearly. As on Thursday, 418 of its employees were down with coronavirus, including 8 deaths, while 267 have recovered, a recovery rate of 64 per cent. The highest number of staffers under Covid treatment are from the traffic wing of the undertaking.

"Only 25 of 151 active cases are serious. The rest asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The number of cases are increasing but there is nothing to panic, as the recovery rate is higher. There are cases because the spread of the virus in the state is not yet contained," said Dr Anil Kumar Singhal, Chief Medical Officer, BEST.

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