Mumbai: Roads will soon be dotted with 100 new double-deckers

Updated: 16 November, 2020 07:12 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Move comes after sustained campaign by this newspaper and emotional plea of enthusiasts following the scrapping of the old buses

An official said tenders for the new buses were floated on November 11
An official said tenders for the new buses were floated on November 11

Mumbai's love affair with the double-decker BEST bus can now continue. Following several emotional appeals from Mumbaikars, and mid-day's articles on the subject, the iconic double-deckers are here to stay, and with the same Routemaster design, but in an advanced and upgraded avatar.

Also read: Mumbai: Scrapping of city's iconic double deckers begins

The BEST Undertaking this week placed orders for 100 automatic transmission Bharat Standard VI class, non-AC new double decker buses, with power-operated doors. A senior BEST official confirmed the development and said tenders were floated on November 11 with the bid submission date starting the same day, to be continued till December 7.

'A blend of the best'

The old popular Routemaster design developed in England between 1947 and 1956, has been synonymous with an independent driver's cabin, integral body design and rear entry platform which will now have electrically operated doors. The buses will have two - front and rear - power operated hydraulic doors.

mid-day's sustained campaign also helped get the BEST double-deckers back. File pic/Satej Shinde
mid-day's sustained campaign also helped get the BEST double-deckers back. File pic/Satej Shinde

"The new bus will be a blend of the best of the old and new. All the good, old and nostalgic features like the mechanical bell cord, the bhopu (air-bulb) horn have been retained in addition to modern features like a passenger address system and electrical horns, CCTVs, GPS vehicle trackers, LED displays, wheel chair ramps and even space to keep walking aids for the disabled etc," an official said.

"The new bus will conform to the Bharat Standard VI, BS-VI emission norms as mandated by the central government from April 1, 2020 with six-cylinder compatible fuel engine and a maximum speed of 80kmph with a life of 15 years," he said.

Introduced in Bombay in 1937 to cope with the growing number of passengers on the lines of the red double-decker buses in London, the sheer size and look of the double-decker buses made them very popular from day one.

Double-deckers had been quietly vanishing from the city's scape with the fleet going down from 227 in April 2006 to 171 in April 2008, 134 in July 2009, 122 in 2018 and with just 60 remaining by December 2020.

mid-day's reports helped

Following a series of articles on the subject by mid-day, such as the BEST lining up 900 buses for scrap over the next one year in its August 18 edition, followed by an article on August 26 that the double-decker buses had started arriving for scrap at Anik depot, there was a huge feedback and emotional outburst from citizens, with the issue trending on social media.

BEST Chairman Pravin Shinde had promised mid-day in an interview that he would revive the good, old double-decker buses. Outgoing BEST chairman Anil Patankar had also promised mid-day, about initiating the process of revival of double-decker buses.

Two staircases

"The interesting feature of the new buses will be two staircases, one in the front and another in the back. There will be inter-communication equipment inside the bus between the upper and lower deck, surveillance cameras on both decks and an emergency exit at the right side of the bus. The improvements and template have been taken from the London bus," BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said.

No. of buses that the BEST Undertaking has said it has lined up to be scrapped in the next one year

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First Published: 16 November, 2020 07:10 IST

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