Yesterday, this paper carried a report about how the BEST bus service, an iconic symbol of Mumbai’s transport system has been steadily losing its sheen. Quarterly figures till June show that BEST is incurring losses while the number of passengers continues to fall.
The BEST has been the jewel in Mumbai’s transportation crown. Even with some adverse incidents and problems, one has to acknowledge that the BEST performs exemplary service in an extremely challenging city and commuting environment.
Travellers to global cities will notice that the bus system in other cities do not cover the expanse and network of routes that Mumbai does. As the city’s population burgeons, new transport networks like the monorail and metro are planned. However, the BEST bosses need to introspect and take action to remedy the situation. Better frequency, less hassle with change to pay for tickets and better maintenance within buses are just some immediate measures that the fleet bosses can address so that passenger numbers are upped once again.
Frequency of buses is paramount. Maybe, they need to take a re-look at bus usage during peak hours, up buses on certain routes so that commuters have less waiting time. Fares have been raised substantially, even taking into account the inflation. Another fare hike, would only result in even lesser people using the service. As it is, fares have almost doubled on most routes.
While the BEST is struggling with losses, it can upgrade bus stops, bus interiors to some extent and ensure that bus numbers could be read easily, which is a big grouse with the public. Putting the commuter first, is one way to regain its glory.