Mumbai: Special Siddhivinayak AC bus has hardly any takers

Updated: Oct 04, 2019, 07:52 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

But regular commuters are thrilled to get AC rides to Dadar and Elphinestone at Rs 6 and are making full use of special Siddhivinayak bus

There were no car owners who took the bus, but regular commuters were thrilled by the R6 AC ride. Pics/Ashish Raje
There were no car owners who took the bus, but regular commuters were thrilled by the R6 AC ride. Pics/Ashish Raje

The new AC bus services from the Kohinoor parking lot to Siddhivinayak temple had hardly any takers even on Day 2. The ones who did board were, however, amused to see a compact AC bus with a fare of just R6. BEST began its services on the new route from Kohinoor parking lot to Siddhivinayak temple, a 2.5-km ride, on Wednesday, October 2.

On mid-day's test drive of the route on Thursday morning, there was not a single car-owner who had parked the car in the parking lot to take the bus to Siddhivinayak. Many regular commuters instead enjoyed the AC services to their destinations on the route. The BMC has a parking lot near Kohinoor square with a vehicle capacity of 1,007. A s the BMC couldn't provide a parking lot near Siddhivinayak temple, which the temple trust had requested it to, the civic body came up with an alternative of special AC buses on the route dedicated to car owners who park at the Kohinoor Public Parking Lot (PPL).

The compact AC bus has been catching a lot of eyeballs on its route, with a lot of commuters asking 'kidhar jaata hai?'
The compact AC bus has been catching a lot of eyeballs on its route, with a lot of commuters asking 'kidhar jaata hai?'

Bus number A-54 leaves from the parking lot via Dadar Plaza, D'Silva school to Siddhivinayak temple, Kirti College, Shivaji Park and bus number A-55 comes counter-clockwise. An interval of 20 minutes has been planned for the buses from 8 am to 8.20 pm. However, when the mid-day team reached the bus stop at 7.50 am, there was no sign of the bus. A security guard appointed to look after the PPL said around 300 to 350 vehicles used the BMC parking lot earlier. The number had, however, dropped from October 1 when the BMC began charging for parking. Around 8.20 am, a BEST official, over a call told mid-day that the bus was stuck in a traffic jam. At 8.37 am, an A-54 bus reached the parking lot and took a U-turn immediately without having a look at whether there were passengers waiting for it. Half-an-hour later, bus number A-54 came over.

A ticket inspector from the Worli depot, P R Raut, told mid-day that the bus was running late and there weren't any passengers in the parking lot a day before "so we thought of completing as many rounds as possible but got stuck in a traffic jam." The bus is supposed to start its journey from Colaba at 6 am and reach Santacruz at 7.15 am before reaching Kohinoor parking lot.

The compact AC bus has been catching a lot of eyeballs on its route, with a lot of commuters asking 'kidhar jaata hai?'

"Though we started on time, the traffic delayed the bus," said conductor Kashinath Aachrekar from Colaba depot. Having started with just the mid-day team on board, by the time the bus reached Dadar Plaza and D'Silva school stops, many passengers had entered for Agar Bazar, Siddhivinayak and Prabhadevi. They were amazed at the compact AC bus on a hot October morning. A passenger even called home to share his novel experience. The bus reached Siddhivinayak temple within 10 minutes where traffic police do not allow the bus to take a right turn in front of the temple. The bus driver thus proceeded to Prabhadevi to turn and returned to the parking lot at 9.32 am.

When inquired about the second bus, we were told that it never comes to the parking lot. The BMC had last week cut the divider on Lady Jamshetji road in front of Shiv Sena Bhavan to make way for the bus to take a U-turn on to Thakkar lane. The divider had earlier been closed due to traffic chaos at the junction, which forced the BEST to run A-55 on another route starting from Plaza. We rode on the bus near Shivaji Mandir at 10 am but there were no passengers. "It will take some time to set the route. As people get to know of this bus, we will get a response," said Sunil Talekar, ticket inspector.

Bus conductor Sandesh Nikam was calling out names of the destinations name at every bus stop but that didn't help either. At the temple, slightly hesitant passengers entered the bus and enjoyed the ride up to Dadar railway station. The bus reached Plaza at 10.25 am and waited for 10 minutes before taking the next ride. BMC's assistant commissioner (North ward) Kiran Dighavkar said the idea behind the bus service was to help both car owners who visit Siddhivinayak and local residents. "It will take some time to get people used to the idea and will ultimately help reduce the number of vehicles parked on the road illegally," he added.

Logistical issues

While the small 22-seater (including driver) bus is a good option for the city's narrow lanes and traffic jams, some issues were evident. The steps to board the bus start about 1.5 feet above the ground making it difficult for senior citizens, saree-clad women and children to climb it. Once inside, the height of the roof is short too. The bus has no bell, making communication between the driver and conductor difficult, especially at bus stops. The electronic display board on the A-55 bus was not working due to technical errors.

2.5km
Length of the route

8am
Time services begin on the ring route

Rs 6
Ticket price on the route

Commuter speak

'I wasn't aware of any such bus service. But as the conductor called out "Siddhivinayk", I stepped in. It feels good to ride on a cool bus on such a hot day. But why they didn't do any announcement for it earlier?'
Kishor Patil, a commuter

'Reducing the fares is a good decision and the compact bus is good on the roads in Dadar where big buses always get stuck in traffic. Now BEST will have to increase the frequency of these buses'
Yogesh Ghanekar, a commuter

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