Bring all municipal buses under BEST, says MNS
An umbrella organisation with relevant experience would be in a better position to run a public transport service in MMR, says MNS
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has come up with its own solution to the city's bus woes — bring all public transport buses in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) under the BEST. This, the political party says, will improve planning and coordination and benefit the commuter.
Apart from the BEST Undertaking, which has a fleet of 3,400 buses that cater to the city and a few extended suburbs, there are many other small public bodies operating independently.
While the Thane Municipal Transport has a fleet of 210 buses, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport has 475 buses. The Vasai-Virar Transport Service, which has a fleet of its own 30 buses is also expected to get active by year-end with 100 buses from a contractor. Other bodies like the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Transport, Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Transport, Ulhasnagar Municipal Transport too have limited buses and many of them are stuck in litigation.
"There is an urgent need to get different public transport undertakings in the MMR under an umbrella organisation. In the existing state, all transport undertakings are suffering due to some reason or the other. Small towns are turning into cities and public transport remains a problem. Not all municipal corporations or councils may have the expertise to run a transport body. Hence, they all must be merged under one body so that the problems can be handled better," Rajesh Shanaram Kadam, MNS' Dombivli city chief said.
"Maybe we could merge them with the BEST, which has the experience of running public transport for over a century, as a parent body," he said.
Transport experts had mixed reactions to this. "It is heartening that someone wants to improve public transport. Good quality and affordable bus-based public transport in Thane can be achieved. A Viability Gap Funding scheme, wherein the state provides a per bus km subsidy can help create a public transport system on Public Private Partnership basis," transport activist Ranjit Gadgil said. "It is a partially good idea. Thane district is expanding and as such it should also be able to expand its transport network in a planned and systematic manner. But merging with the BEST is not possible as it is a fully owned BMC undertaking," transport expert Ajit Shenoy of the Mumbai Vikas Samiti and Mumbai Mobility Forum said.
Public policy (transport) expert Paresh Rawal, on the other hand, said it would be a very good and positive development. "A small step but in the right direction."
Transport bodies and their buses
- Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST): 2,727 own buses; 1,000 leased buses; 1,000 MSRTC buses and 443 routes
- Thane Municipal Transport (TMT): 210 buses on 74 routes
- Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT): 475 buses on 77 routes
- Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Transport (KDMT): 218 buses with over 50 being operational
- Khopoli Municipal Transport (KMT): 17 buses on seven routes
- Vasai-Virar Transport Service (VVTS): 30 owned buses
- Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Transport (MBMT): 20 of 70 buses operational, 60 routes
- Ulhasnagar Municipal Transport Service (UMTS): Service shut for seven years
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