On November 22, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) committee approved the demand made by the administration of this BEST undertaking to hike basic fare by Re 1.
This approval was given after a six-hour long debate between the various members of BEST Committee representing different political parties. Even though the Congress, NCP and MNS opposed the Shiv Sena led BEST Committee, the latter approved the administration �s demand for this hike. Earlier this month, MiD DAY on November 12 mentioned about BEST �s plan to hike bus fares.
The hike has been proposed after the recent hike in CNG and diesel further augmented their annual expenditure. The hike would mean that commuters traveling short-distances of 2 to 3 kms will have to shell out anywhere between Re 1 to Rs 5 more. Sources added that the above fare hike will affect 70 percent passengers who travel short distance in BEST bus, off the total 40-lakh odd.
These mainly comprise students, college and office goers who prefer taking the BEST bus till railway stations, after the recent hike in auto rickshaw and taxi fares. This proposal has now been sent to the BMC standing committee. Once the members of this committee sanction it, it will come into effect, which is most likely to happen.
Meanwhile for ordinary, limited, express and AC express buses the tariff hike of Re 1 is proposed only for first two slabs of 2 km and 3 km distance, while for AC buses a hike of Rs 5 is suggested at all levels.
�The recent hike in diesel and CNG has added a burden of Rs 20-25 crore and Rs 5.5 crore respectively. We know that it will affect passengers but to balance the increased burden this hike has been enforced, � said Ashok Patil, BEST chairman.
There are 4524 buses in BEST Undertaking �s fleet. Of this more than fifty percent or nearly 2979 buses run on CNG while rest operates on diesel. The Undertaking is already facing losses and recently took loan of Rs 1600 crore at 10 percent interest rate from the BMC to pay off their short term loans and pay salaries to their staff.