BEST Panel Approves Fare Hike, Will Send It To BMC For Its Okay Following Which It Will Be Implemented In Feb Or April

Mumbai : Taking the first step towards increase in bus fares, BEST committee members on Thursday cleared two proposed hikes. The proposal will now be sent to the BMC for its approval following which it will be implemented in February and April 2015.

The BEST bus fare will be increased by Re 1 in February if the BMC agrees to pay Rs 150 crore to the undertaking. But the fare will be hiked by Rs 2 if there is no subsidy from the BMC. Standing Committee Chairman, Yashodhar Phanse, also present in the meeting on Thursday, said, “The BMC has witnessed a reduction in its revenue with the collection from octroi going down but we will try our best.”

“I have requested the Chief Minister to consider the condition of the BEST and allocate funds for the same during a meeting earlier today (Thursday) during which the officials from MMRDA as well as chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya were also present,” he added.

The Re 1 fare hike that was to be implemented in April this year was held back after BMC agreed to pay Rs 150 crore to the BEST as subsidy. The BEST has been given Rs 37.5 crore while Rs 112.5 crore is yet to be recovered from the BMC.

Clarifying the same, Phanse said, “The second installment of Rs 34.5 crore has been approved by the standing committee and will be given to the BMC in next two days.”

A source from the BEST said, “The CM is likely to take a decision in January when things will become clear.”

Justifying the need for the implementation of the fare hike, BEST General Manager, OP Gupta said, “The minimum fare of the BEST since 2001 has only gone up from Rs 4 to Rs 6 while the establishment cost has gone up from Rs 813 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 1500 crore in 2014-15 according to the budget estimate.”

He further said, “The user charges need to be recovered from the users and people will have to be told about the same. If BMC does not pay for the users we will have to implement both the fare hikes in February and April.”

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In The Red?

The BEST has suffered a loss of Rs 150 crore annually for running and maintenance of 282 King Long AC buses which were purchased in 2010. Only less than half the money spent on the maintenance and the running cost is recovered by operating these buses. The BEST at present has a total of 200 King Long buses in its fleet while others are either scrapped or not in use. “On an average 48 buses have to be sent for monthly maintenance. The maintenance of the buses is also very difficult as the parts are not easily available,” said a BEST official.

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