There are no takers for 20 of BEST’s air-conditioned buses, even as scrap. They were once part of BEST’s AC bus fleet of 282, which has officially come down to 260 AC buses.

Also Read: BEST to conduct repairs worth Rs 12 lakh on AC bus blowers

The BEST has been trying to auction the 20 AC buses for a while.  pic for representation
The BEST has been trying to auction the 20 AC buses for a while. Pic for representation

For nearly two years now, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) officials have been claiming that they have scrapped 20 AC buses and these are no longer part of their fleet. However, what comes as a surprise is that these buses are still with the Undertaking, parked at various depots, thus depreciating, and eating away parking space in their 4,000-odd bus fleet.

“These buses have been parked at Anik depot, where there is lot of space,” said a BEST official. It has space to accommodate more than 140 buses, plus other vehicles and scrap. Moreover there is a separate space for keeping scrap buses — both AC and regular ones. As per the process, when any bus goes for auction, it is taken to Oshiwara bus depot, where there is a yard as well.

BEST will trim their overall bus fleet to 3,916 buses in March 2016 before they begin buying new non-AC buses. Sources also said that BEST have realised the actual market value of their AC bus fleet after the quotes received from scrap dealers.

Scrap dealers' estimate
“These buses were getting a mere Rs 1 lakh each,” confirmed Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST Undertaking. The cost of these buses when they were purchased was around Rs 55-60 lakh each. These 20 buses are the ones first bought in 2007.

Read Story: BEST wants govt, private firms to hire its loss-making AC buses

The BEST spends Rs 13 crore per month but earns Rs 5 crore per month on each AC bus. Sources, however, claim that the BEST should account for these 20 buses and their repair and maintenance costs, while accounting for losses. The BEST was spending Rs 1,605 lakh in 2012-13 on repairs and maintenance of AC buses, along with regular CNG buses. They have predicted the maintenance cost will increase to Rs 2,700 lakh by 2016-17.

“The number of AC buses plying everyday is merely 125 or so, while the rest are in maintenance,” said BEST member Ravi Raja. Initially, they had bought 282 AC buses at a cost of Rs 460 crore, of which two got burnt, while the Undertaking has been trying to auction 20 buses.

Now their AC fleet has just 260 buses, and a majority of them are performing poorly. Because of this, the Undertaking faces a loss of Rs 150 crore annually. There are several breakdowns, thus affecting their turnout on road. Recently, they also sought tenders to replace the 400 air blowers meant for 200 AC buses.

Number of AC buses in BEST
20: bought in 2007
50: bought in 2008
200: bought in 2009
12: bought in 2010