The transport undertaking spent Rs162 crore for the vehicles, while the budget earmarked for them was Rs 152 crore; many of these are languishing in depots owing to inadequate provisions for maintenance
Under fire from all quarters due to frequent breakdowns of its poorly maintained city buses, Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is now neck deep in trouble for having spent beyond its means to purchase new buses.
What a waste: According to a BEST committee member, the transport
undertaking incurs losses of Rs 75 crore annually by running King Long
buses. File pic
The BEST administration, while presenting its budget for the coming financial year, disclosed that the actual expenditure incurred in buying new buses in the 2010-11 session was Rs 162.07 crore, while the budget allocated for the same was Rs 152.2 crore. This means that the undertaking overspent Rs 9.87 crore to purchase the new buses.
The BEST purchased 32 CNG single decker buses, 247 Midi buses and 353 single decker buses in the 2010-2011 period. Sources said that the BEST incurred the additional costs owing to fluctuations in their market values.
However, the expenditure seems to have been futile, as many of the new buses continue to remain inside bus depots for maintenance.
Officials say that around 250 to 300 buses of their total fleet of 4,700 buses do not ply every day, as no provisions for proper maintenance are in place.
"There is a severe need for the entire Transport Division of BEST to undergo an overhaul. Looking at the statistics, they cannot say they are adding buses to the fleet after purchasing new ones. Most
of the buses are in the depot," said BEST Committee Member Ravi Raja.
According to officials, even the air conditioned King Long buses turned out to be nothing but the proverbial white elephant.
Sunil Ganacharya, another BEST committee member, said, "The BEST incurs losses of Rs 75 crore annually by running King Long buses."
Even commuters have been complaining that the changes haven't actually made a difference. "There is severe problem in the display boards, especially during monsoon, as water seeps in, switching the board off," said P Sakpal, a regular BEST commuter who commutes to Charni Road every day.
Officials from BEST, however, countered that they went beyond their budget because the new buses were retrofitted from diesel to CNG and owing to costs incurred for electrical modifications, in particular the destination boards which work on LED bulbs.
CNG single decker buses
Single decker buses (2010-2011)