Following a recently concluded inspection of the 30 low-floor buses, the BEST committee members demanded blacklisting Tata Motors for supplying sub-standard buses to the Undertaking.

A low-floor bus parked outside CST station. Pic/Bipin Kokate
A low-floor bus parked outside CST station. Pic/Bipin Kokate

These buses were purchased over a period of 10 years ago, starting 2005, at a cost of R22 lakh each. These buses ply on the Fort Ferry route between CST-Nariman Point-Churchgate-CST. In addition, these buses also ply on shorter routes.

Members claim that all the 30 vehicles have started to give way in the middle and are riddled with technical glitches. The Committee is miffed to such an extent that it has rejected the latest proposal of purchasing a new batch of 30 low-floor buses, now worth Rs 64 lakh each.

The Committee members further alleged that the buses have failed to serve their purpose of facilitating physically challenged commuters.

They added that despite being meant for physically challenged, the government has failed to provide the Undertaking with subsidy or octroi relief. This they said is costing the administration Rs 4.75 crore annually.

BEST speaks
BEST Committee chairperson Arvind Dudhvadkar said, “We will scrap the proposal for procuring new low-floor buses. Instead, we’ll monitor the performance of a prototype and then reconsider our decision.”

A senior BEST official requesting, anonymity revealed that the Undertaking has decided to purchase a single prototype from the new batch, process for which has already commenced.

Admitting that the low-floor buses were in bad shape, BEST General manager Jagdish Patil said, “We agree that these low floor buses, purchased in the last 10 years, have corroded and are in poor shape. Although we don’t have statistics on how many physically challenged commuters travel in these, we cannot discriminate between them and able-bodied travellers.”

Tata speak
"We at Tata Motors have learnt that BEST plans to replace its older buses, currently operating in South Mumbai’s Fort area. Since 2008, the low-floor buses have successfully ferried 1000s of passengers, around one of Mumbai’s busiest commercial areas, providing them with ample space, comfort and convenient, thanks to their low-height. While we have been in continuous discussion with BEST around maintenance and upkeep of these buses, we are also gearing-up to supply new ones," said a spokesperson from Tata Motors.