BEST bus fares reduced, minimum fare down to Rs 5

Updated: Jun 26, 2019, 09:55 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar | Mumbai

BEST finally decides to cut fares at committee meeting on Tuesday. As per the new fare structure, price of tickets for regular buses will range from Rs 5 to Rs 20 and for AC buses from Rs 6 to Rs25.

After going back and forth on the issue of reducing the minimum fare for buses, the BEST Committee has finally decided to make the base charge Rs 5. The proposal will first be sent to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and then to the Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority for approvals, a process that would take less than a month. As per the new fare structure, price of tickets for regular buses will range from Rs 5 to Rs 20 and for AC buses from Rs 6 to Rs 25.

Speaking at the committee meeting held on Tuesday, BJP leader and BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said, "The BEST must think from a long-term perspective. The proposal has been brought in a hurry, without any calculation. If the number of buses goes up, so will the passengers, but with fares coming down, the total revenue might remain the same. Every bus will require staff and parking space, and as per my information, there is no space to park beyond 4,000 buses at 26 depots. The BMC has asked the BEST to get 7,000 buses in six months. How will the BEST manage that? They had been giving us long-winding reports on how the fares could not be lowered when such proposals were brought in earlier. Now this sudden turn of events has surprised me."

"Ganacharya has rightly said that the BEST needs to find out the losses each route will suffer. What will happen after the R600crore aid is over. The BEST should be able to sustain itself after the funds are over," said BEST Opposition leader Ravi Raja.

Stiff competition?

However, speaking about the minimum fare that even the share autos and taxis in the city have not been able to provide, Anthony L Quadros, president of Mumbai Taximen's Union, said, "We have to wait and watch. This might hit the share auto and taxi businesses in the city. But all of it depends on BEST's performance. Just reducing the fare won't help if the service is not in place. In Mumbai, time is money. People do not have time to wait, but have money to spare."

Mumbai Automen's Union leader Shashank Sharad Rao, who is also the leader of the BEST Workers' Union, said, "I think it is a good move and will help BEST come out of its financial mess. I do not think it will disturb the share auto business, as the two operate in entirely different spaces."

'No reason to worry'

Meanwhile, Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thackery, on his first-ever visit to Electric House BEST headquarters, said in the future 500 electric buses would be included in the fleet and then new routes would be explored. BEST General Manager Surendra Bagade said that there was no reason to worry and a foolproof plan was in place. "About 500 buses will be added to the fleet in the next three to four months, after which 1,000 more buses will join. All these buses will be air-conditioned," he added.

No. of buses will be added to the fleet in the next three to four months

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