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From two, BEST down to one route that generates profit

Last year, two routes 169 and 415 raked in profits for the undertaking; this year, only route number 340 has managed to bring in money

Brihanmumbai Electric and Suburban Transport’s books have gone from bad to worse. The undertaking is making a profit on only one of their 504 routes operating in the city. Last year around December, BEST had two profit-making routes.

Officials blamed the increase in losses on truant drivers and conductors, and the flash strike in April. File pic
Officials blamed the increase in losses on truant drivers and conductors, and the flash strike in April. File pic

Senior BEST officials said that currently there is only one route –number 340 plying between Agarkar Chowk (Andheri East) and Ghatkopar (W) that is enjoying profits.

Surprisingly, this is the same route above which the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro rail corridor is operational. Sources said that there is tremendous demand on this route as several offices are situated in this belt.

More misery
Making matters worse for the BEST is the fact that number of routes that were breaking even has dropped drastically. In April this year, only 97 routes were on break-even point. The figure last year around April was 242 routes, more than twice.

mid-day’s front-page report on November 7, 2013
mid-day’s front-page report on November 7, 2013

These routes are normally the ones which people use for their daily office commutes. “The buses didn’t ply due to a sudden strike in April, so there has been fall in the figures,” said a BEST official. Among the loss-making routes, the number has shot up from 267 last year to 392 this year.

BEST is befuddled as to how, even after ferrying a good 40 lakh odd passengers, routes are still running in the red. Senior officials also attributed it to absenteeism of drivers and conductors. With 10 per cent of drivers and conductors shirking duty, buses are unable to ply and, thereby, losses accumulate.

“Our operational ratio is almost 93 percent and we are aiming at 95 percent. This was around 88 percent earlier. This means that the turnout of buses on road has gone up,” said O P Gupta, general manager, BEST, trying to see the glass half full. Gupta says it means that there is a drop in the number of buses that are under maintenance and don’t run on roads. BEST’s 4,200-odd buses cover a total of 7 lakh kilometres every day.

BEST route details
504: Number of bus routes plying on road
341: Number of ‘Ordinary’ bus routes
124: Number of ‘Limited’ bus routes
16: Number of ‘Corridor’ bus routes
23: Number of ‘AC’ bus routes

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