BMC's Diwali gift for SoBo: free hop-on, hop-off buses

After Diwali, civic body to launch Fort ferry to make commuting easy, specially for those plying short distances; free of charge, it will ply every 5 minutes

For those of you fed up of trying to hail cabs in South Mumbai and hearing no for an answer if you want to go a short distance, this Diwali bears a pleasant surprise. The civic body has planned to introduce a free bus service from Churchgate to Nariman Point after the festival. Called the Fort ferry project, it will be a blessing to all those who fail to find a taxi.

According to the plan presented by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) to the civic authority, the loop buses will ply every five minutes. There would be designated bus stops, which will drop commuters to government and corporate offices, restaurants in Fort, Colaba, Nariman Point, Crawford Market, CST and Churchgate stations. Architect Pankaj Joshi, member of Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) and director of UDRI, said, "In the Fort management plan, we have decided to launch bus services to ferry people who usually get off at the stations and find it difficult to flag a taxi. These hop-on, hop off buses would mitigate the problems."

No conductors
Though the routes are yet to be finalised, Joshi said that the first proposed route will be along Churchgate station, Crawford Market, CST, Ballard Estate, Horniman Circle, Regal Junction and Mantralaya. As per the plan, there will be no conductors as tickets would not be issued. The revenue for plying this service will be procured from advertising. The buses will be spacious with sufficient standing room and seating capacity. The officials have not yet decided whether the buses would be air-conditioned.

A BMC official said, "This project would be undertaken with the BEST, which has already devoted 24 King Long buses. Apart from that, we are planning to invest Rs 12 lakh on more buses. We have decided to keep the cost of advertising high to generate enough revenue, and will increase the number of buses when the passenger traffic increases."

The BMC plans to carry out other promotional activities related to the service, the official added.

Proposed routes
>> Churchgate station - Metro theatre - CST - D N Road - Flora Fountain
>> Mantralaya - Churchgate station - Flora Fountain - D N Road - CST - Crawford Market
>> Churchgate station - Flora Fountain - Regal theatre -Nariman Point (R C Church)
>> Churchgate station - Flora Fountain - D N Road - Ballard Estate
>> CST - Shahid Bhagat Singh Road - Regal theatre - Nariman Point  (R C Church)

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