BEST's newly painted AC bus was spotted on the road this morning
BEST's newly painted AC bus was spotted on the road this morning

The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking's troublemaking AC bus service has finally donned the avatar that it was most notorious for - that of a white elephant.

Early this morning, the purple AC bus, now painted white, was found manoeuvering through the busy road stretch of Bandra East. The bus, ironically referred to as 'white elephant' in BEST circles - meaning a possession that is expensive to maintain - has replaced the purple-bodied AC buses that were taken off the road last week.

On April 17, BEST Undertaking had suspended all AC buses - its fleet comprised 266 AC purple buses - after reporting losses worth R200 crore annually. The purple buses were fraught with issues - frequent breakdowns, inability to climb flyovers and bridges, and non-functional AC. When it was first launched in 2007, four buses had also unexpectedly caught fire.

Except for the colour, the features of the Cerita-make buses are the same as the previous AC fleet. Currently, BEST has only launched one service from Bandra East to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). "We are running it on trial basis for six months. We want people's view on the new colour combination," said H Gophane, BEST spokesperson.

BEST officials approached JJ School of Arts to make cosmetic changes in the buses. But BEST committee members said that maintaining the white bus will be a task, as dust, paan spit and pollution can tarnish the colour.

Five other non-AC buses began plying today. They offer free WiFi, entertainment options on commuters' cell phones, ample leg space, rooftop ventilation, real-time location and expected time of arrival (ETA).

New routes

Bandra (E)-BKC

>> CST-Gateway of India/Colaba
>> CST-World Trade Centre
>> Churchgate-World Trade Centre
>> Churchgate ring route
>> CST-Kamala Nehru Park