Summer scorcher: BEST AC buses off the road from today

Mumbai, April 17: Mumbai’s the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) finally brought the curtains down on its air-conditioned bus service from today as the operational costs coupled with low patronage was drilling a hole in the already depleted pockets of the transport utility.

AC buses of the undertaking will be off the streets from April 17 and passengers who have passes on these buses can either use them for conventional buses or could get a refund, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) said in a statement.

Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST explained the mathematics behind the decision. “The 202 AC buses on the roads were attracting just 20000 passengers cumulatively per day. In contrast a fleet of 200 conventional buses are carrying 9 lakh passengers every day. There was no other option but to stop it,” said Patil.

Patil said that a proposal to have smaller 20-22 seater AC buses will be tabled before the BEST committee in a month’s time. “This would be a completely new service and will be highly-customised to attract passengers. The formalities are being worked out. It could even be run similar to an aggregator mechanism,” said Patil.
Passengers who have passes on these buses can either use them for conventional buses or could get a refund, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) said in a statement. A fare reduction by 50 per cent in July last year was the last throw of the dice and when even that did not change the bottom-lines of the AC operations, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) authorities said there was no option but to scrap the service.

A Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) report way back in 2015 put the losses just from the AC buses service at Rs 360 crores out of a total loss in the transport division of Rs 800 crores. It meant that while AC buses comprised about 9 percent of the BEST’s fleet, it contributed to about 44 per cent of the losses.

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