COVID-19: Mumbai needs more bus services for the public, can 1,500 school buses chip in?
Transport experts say that additions to the fleet from all kinds of buses would be a welcome move to improve the frequency and increase overall carrying capacity in Mumbai
With limited buses plying amid the COVID-19 crisis in Mumbai, the city needs more buses to cater to the public transport demand and also ensure tha COVID-19 protocols are followed such as maintain social distancing. While Londoners are experimenting with the idea of inducting their 233 roof-less double-deck tourist buses for regular commuting as COVID-safe mass transit in these difficult times, Mumbai experts rue lack of investment in public bus transport over the years thereby limiting such options to experiment.
"When you have available options, one can experiment. But with limited options, there is really no scope for such luxuries. Mumbai, for example, has just two such open-deck buses that are used for tourism. We are now using almost our entire fleet, but the number of passengers are increasing and with social distancing, we cannot carry the buses beyond a certain capacity. The need for some more sturdy investment in public transport, especially post-pandemic period is being strongly felt now," a retired transport official said.
Transport experts say that given the conditions in Mumbai and the situation where every bus is able to carry a limited number of passengers, additions to the fleet from all kinds of buses would be a welcome move to improve the frequency and increase overall carrying capacity.
"COnsidering the weather, a more practical idea for Mumbai would be using the fleet of 1,500 school buses that are lying idle. The BEST could work out a deal to procure those buses temporarily and run them to boost their frequency," Ajit Shenoy of Mumbai Mobility Forum said.
Jitendra Gupta of Mumbai Transport Forum said, "Mumbai has very different climate conditions. With heavy rains, how far will open buses be useful when it suddenly starts raining and Mumbai is famous for it. Even Singapore uses open deck buses for tourist city site seeing. But these buses also have a half-covered roof where commuters can escape from sudden rains."
"There are as many as 38,000 private buses in the MMR region. We can be the fastest and easiest solution to the problem in hand, unfortunately, we are never considered despite the fact that we run 90 percent of public service buses pan India," Harsh Kotak, secretary of the Mumbai Bus Malak Sangathan (MBMS) stated.
Keep scrolling to read more news
Mid-Day is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@middayinfomedialtd) and stay updated with the latest news
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe