While BEST is saving on fuel thanks to the city’s terrible traffic jams at peak hours, its passengers continue to be inconvenienced. With buses unable to complete their daily quota of runs, there are either not enough services or the journeys are delayed.
Sources said the BEST buses are stuck in traffic jams, which, while saving them fuel costs, is also leading to a drop in the number of services.
The BEST operates around 3,800 buses every day. Of these, 1,200 run on diesel and the rest on CNG. But, sources said the expense on diesel has been dropping by the year. In 2012-13, the Undertaking spent Rs 164.30 crore on diesel, which came down to Rs 124.64 crore in 2015-16.
"We have made a provision of Rs 172 crore for diesel for this year, because of the hike and fluctuations in prices. We then realised that the cost at the end of March 2017 may not cross Rs 144 crore,” said a BEST official. On November 28, mid-day had reported how the breakdown of buses had reduced over the years, not just because of improvements, but because there were not enough services running.
In fact, the BEST Undertaking till September, has have spent merely Rs 65.44 crore. "Owing to traffic jams, buses don’t complete the scheduled number of trips in a day. They also keep waiting at signals, and because of this we are saving on fuel owing to insufficient trips," said a BEST official.
Commuters are unimpressed by the BEST saving on fuel, saying they have to wait too long inside buses because of traffic jams. "Thanks to the ongoing infrastructure work on almost all roads in the city, traffic jams are a regular scene. It is very frustrating to be stuck inside a bus because of these jams," said Baban Satpute, a regular bus commuter in south Mumbai.