Mumbai: BEST fleet is short of mandatory numbers

Updated: 14 October, 2020 07:49 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

As per legally binding agreement between BMC commissioner and Undertaking admin, there must be a fleet of 3,337 BEST-owned buses; it currently has 2,776 buses

As not all passengers are being allowed on local trains, most people are dependent on BEST buses to commute. File pic/Atul Kamble
As not all passengers are being allowed on local trains, most people are dependent on BEST buses to commute. File pic/Atul Kamble

The BEST bus fleet is falling short, not just for Mumbai commuters and routes, but even as a legally mandatory public transport fleet. The BEST's powerful trade union has raised a red flag over shortage of mandatory numbers - about 561 buses - condemning the inaction on the part of the concerned officials.

The latest budget documents presented on Saturday reveal that the BEST now has a fleet of 2,776 buses that are owned by it and the rest have been procured on wet lease/contract.

'Violation of agreement'

"This is a clear violation of the legally binding agreement between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner and the BEST administration. The deal was that at any given point in time, the BEST must have a fleet of 3,337 self-owned buses. For every bus scrapped, the BMC will fund a new bus. This Memorandum of Understanding has been backed by the BMC with a signed document," Shashank Sharad Rao of BEST Workers' Union said.

As per the latest documents of the 2021-22 budget, the BEST has about 2,776 buses of their own, which means they are short of 561 buses for that number. The BEST Undertaking must take steps to buy those many buses as early as possible before the gap widens," he added.

As mid-day reported last month, there is a plan to scrap about 900 buses in the next one year, including half the fleet of buses from the existing 120 double decker ones. BEST officials said a number of buses that had been procured between 2005-06 have reached the age-limit of 15 years, after which they need to be retired from passenger service, adding that they would need to go by the law of the land and retire them technically at the end of their validity and certificates.

BEST chairman speak

BEST Chairman Pravin Shinde on taking over as the new chairman last week said that his top priority remained procuring more buses in the fleet. "It is a matter of concern that BEST has to borrow buses from other public transporters. This has to stop immediately, and my priority will remain to get more and more buses of our own in the fleet," Shinde, a corporator from Jogeshwari said.

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First Published: 14 October, 2020 07:15 IST

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