Mumbai: Double-decker buses for local tours and as loos?
Even as BEST lines 10-12 buses for disposal, committee member suggests putting them to other use
For a while, the BEST undertaking has been planning to slowly phase-out its fleet of 120 out-of-use double-decker buses, and has also lined up 10-12 of them for disposal. However, in a bid to preserve the city's heritage, BEST committee member Suhas Samant suggested that the buses could be used to ply local tourists or as public toilets.
Speaking to mid-day, Samant said, "The BEST has lined up about 10-12 buses for disposal, but the proposal hasn't got any response yet. What I suggest is that these buses could be used for local tours like Nilambari if their roofs are removed." He added, "If they cannot be run at all, then they can be used as public toilet units."
Double-decker buses were first introduced in 1937 in order to cope with the growing traffic and space crunch in the city. Back then the single-decker buses could carry 36 passengers while the double-decker ones could accommodate 58. This helped reduce the operational cost per passenger and the double-decker ones would also use less road space per passenger.
According to BEST data, the cost of operation of a double-decker bus is Rs70 per km as against Rs50 for a single-decker bus. At present, the double-decker ones run on 16 routes in the city and suburbs and requires two conductors as against one in a single-decker one. The current carrying capacity of double-decker buses is 91 passengers as against 72 for a single-decker one. It costs BEST Rs50,000-1lakh per year to maintain a double-decker bus.
Vivek Pai, architect- urban planner and transportation consultant said, "Buses are the way forward in Indian cities. It's an excellent idea to use the old double-decker buses as tourist ferries but they could also be used as moving libraries and installation in parks and gardens. BEST should also conduct a design competition through which students or professionals could suggest how these buses can be used."
Ajit Shenoy of Mumbai Mobility Forum said, "I think BEST should not try either of the options. Why should they take up activities that aren't part of their core responsibilities and also when it's running in loss. It should concentrate on improving its operations. BEST can donate the buses to either MTDC or the BMC sanitation department if they are interested."
Jitendra Gupta of Mumbai Transport Forum said the city's double-decker buses reminded people of the British-era ones, which are still running in London. "Why are we planning to do away with it? They might not be suitable for those roads that face traffic congestion but they can still be used on the ones that are not congested. If nothing else, then use them as tourist buses or toilets."
Amount it costs BEST to maintain a double-decker bus
No. of passengers a double-decker bus can carry
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