Mumbaikars who were concerned about the possible bus fare hike in the new year can now heave a sigh of relief. The BMC Standing Committee Chairperson, Rahul Shewale, while tabling the BEST budget before the General Body (GB), has said that the hike is unnecessary. The final decision on the fare hike will be taken on Monday.
The BEST administration had cleared the proposal (see box) in November 2013 to hike bus fare, and forward it to the BMC for approval. The hike was supposed to target 24 lakh commuters who travel short distances. The undertaking said it was expecting to make Rs 175 crore through fare revision. A total of 40 lakh people use BEST bus services daily.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Shewale said, “I discussed the issue with the BEST general manager and he agrees to what I proposed. The BEST needs about Rs 150-175 crore to recover losses, and wanted to burden the BEST commuters. It is proposed that the BMC will help BEST with Rs 100 crore through ‘transport fund’ and another Rs 50 crore as it is the parent body provided the fare hike is not imposed.”
BEST GM O P Gupta indicated that the undertaking would be adhering to the GB’s decision. “It will be the general body’s decision and I can’t comment on it as the subject is pending before the body,” he said. Sources in the municipal secretary department said that the BEST undertaking cannot go against the GB, as it is the sanctioning authority.