6,000 buses on Mumbai roads soon: BEST
Indicating the roping in of private operators, general manager of the Undertaking, Surendra Bagade, says it does not matter where the buses come from as long as there's service
The BEST will soon have a fleet of 6,000 buses and there will be no looking back. People do not bother where the buses are coming from, all they want is buses," this is what BEST General Manager Surendra Bagade said at a webinar on 'Take the Bus: A Path to Sustainable Future for Maharashtra' organised by a Pune-based organisation Parisar for Sustainable Urban Mobility Network (SUM Net).
"The important thing for commuters is that they should get buses. I do believe that deployment has become easy due to private participation," he said.
"We have set a target of 6,000 buses in Phase One, and 10,000 buses for Phase Two, which will mean 50 buses per lakh population. But we still don't come close to London. We have tried different models — first is running everything on our own. The second is through private participation, which is believed to save costs and is faster in deployment. We also tried to bring new bus models, like minibuses, which were popular before COVID-19. We also have buses operating without a conductor, it is a unique operation in India. We had also jumped from 22 to 30 lakh ridership through fare elasticity," Bagade said.
"Reducing fares gets more passengers, but sustaining daily operations needs to be considered. We will need support for this to work. I would like people to understand how their choice impacts factors like air pollution," he elaborated.
The expert view
Explaining the working of public transport of buses, Gerald Ollivier, lead transport specialist, World Bank said, "There needs to be a shift from focusing on bus purchasing to bus service delivery. Bus cost is a very small share of the total bus service cost. Also, addressing this gap between bus cost and total bus service cost is crucial. One must also define service levels before talking of expansion."
He said it has been seen that the state spends around R20,000 crore per annum on buses while municipalities contribute R45,000 crore per annum. The support from cities and the state must continue.
MSRTC is back!
The 7,000 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses will begin normal operations from Thursday after the Maharashtra government lifted the ban on inter-district movement via road. A note from MSRTC said that travellers will not require e-passes and that online reservation for all class of buses is open. The buses will operate at a lesser frequency and follow COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
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