Mumbai: BEST gets back on CST-Gateway route with four mini buses
Commuters say arm-twisting of share auto and taxi unions has forced the withdrawal of bus services in many areas
Just a day after mid-day reported about the discontinuation of the BEST bus service on route A-101 from CSMT to the Gateway, the Undertaking restarted the route on Friday and introduced four mini-buses that will ply between CST (near Traffic Island) and Dr SP Mukherjee Chowk. However, citizens are of the view that the arm-twisting of share auto and taxi unions has forced the withdrawal of bus services at many areas across the city and suburbs.
mid-day in it's page 1 report on February 6 (Commuters cry foul as BEST discontinues popular SoBo route) had highlighted how the BEST Undertaking allegedly withdrew the service on route A-101 just to facilitate taxi operators, a charge that they denied, saying that there was a poor response.
However, regular commuters on the stretch had said that the buses were not allowed to ply on the route, and hence, BEST tried to manage the situation with the taxi operators. While a BEST spokesperson refuted the allegation, the Undertaking in a tweet on Friday morning said that they were restoring the service. It also mentioned that the same buses had been redeployed on route A-111 as the demand on that stretch was more and even an additional seven single-decker buses on Route 9 from CSMT (opposite TOI building) to Colaba bus station were operational too.
Speaking to mid-day, commuter Soumit Naik said, "It is the same story outside Andheri West station (bus stops no 257 and 249). The auto-rickshaw drivers stop their vehicles right at the bus stop. I really feel bad for the BEST staff who have to manage this situation."
Speaking about the Churchgate stop, a regular commuter Pratik said, "The bus stop outside Churchgate station subway has also disappeared. Now there is just a cardboard cutout hanging at the spot. However, buses do stop at the point and I have seen ticket checkers as well. Taxis also have a presence there. Not sure what their plans are."
Another commuter Mohit Phalak said, "Very prompt action, but the situation is similar at Bandra and Kurla stations as well."
Another commuter Nikhil said, "The situation is the same on bus route A-163 (Sewri-Worli). Since this service was started, there has been a lot of proliferation of share taxi operators, who force commuters to take cabs at both ends." Another commuter said, "Look at the situation at Mahalakshmi station. People wait for buses to Haji Ali but not a single one is available while cabs are there in abundance."
Twitter account Mumbai Matters said, "We have been asking for a mini-bus service from Matunga Road station to Sion station or at least Sion Hospital, but leave alone starting a service on the route, BEST allows an illegal share taxi stand to operate at its stop."
A site visit by mid-day to Mumbai CSMT confirmed that the illegal cab operators had been moved and barricades put up to prevent them from returning. However, sources said that BEST needed to introspect as to why commuters still prefer cabs. When contacted, a BEST spokesperson said they would ensure that all complaints are closely examined and appropriate action initiated for the benefit of citizens.
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