Private buses can now ply on Mumbai roads, permit-free

Jul 12, 2016, 08:22 IST | Shashank Rao

Transport department admits existing government-run bus services are not up to the mark, gives go-ahead to private players to start services immediately, without any special permit

Commuters living in the metropolitan region will no longer have to suffer at the hands of inefficient public transport companies. The state’s transport department, in a notification on July 7, has allowed private buses to ply throughout the metropolitan region on a point-to-point basis, without needing to secure a permit.

Also Read: Mumbai: BEST wants govt, private firms to hire its loss-making AC buses

Such private buses might soon become a regular sight on city roads. File pics
Such private buses might soon become a regular sight on city roads. File pics

“If there are groups who have a common destination to go to, instead of waiting for the AC buses run by the stage contract operators (BEST, NMMT, TMT) they can employ these private bus operators at a cost and run point-to-point,” said an official from the Transport department.

The notification states that the existing buses run by the government are unable to cater to the rush
The notification states that the existing buses run by the government are unable to cater to the rush

Not up to the mark
The notification states that the existing AC buses being operated by the government agencies are unable to cater to the huge number of commuters. In addition to this, the AC services introduced by BEST too are not up to the mark and because of this, the number of private cars is increasing. Annually, there is 12 per cent rise in number of private vehicles on road in Mumbai.

Read Story: MSRTC's new services eat into the profits of private operators

“There are around 1,200-odd private AC buses that run in the city. This decision will now allow free flow of these buses, thus ensuring that people can use these buses instead of travelling in trains and public transport buses,” said Harsh Kotak, general secretary, Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatan and owner of Modern Transport.

From now on, the private bus operators – be it those operating AC, non-AC, school or even company buses – can run from point-to-point without acquiring a special permit to do so. This will facilitate people residing in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Vasai, Virar and other distant places in the metropolitan region in travelling right till their office spaces. Previously, such operators had to secure a permit in order to ferry passengers from the metropolitan region.

“Rather than people getting their private vehicles, it would be a kind of pooling where groups from particular areas will travel inside a single AC bus. This would ensure that there are lesser private cars on road,” said G Saidhane, Secretary, MMRTA.

A point-to-point system means going from one end to the other without stopping or picking anyone in between. However, sources in the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said that any person who is a part of that group can board the bus or alight at a place before the final destination.

BEST's woes
At present, the BEST operates 260 AC buses and barely 125-130 ply daily. Officials agree that due to maintenance issues, they are parked inside depots and that they spend R40 crore annually on maintenance. The number of daily passengers has come down to 55,000. This is the reason behind the 50% drop in fares of these buses.

Harsh Kotak, Owner, Modern Transport
We have been fighting for this for a long time now. We will be able to cater our buses to a new segment where people too will benefit, as they can book buses for a specific pick up point and have it run till the destination.

KV Shetty, Owner, Supreme Travels
This [notification] will give us freedom to not only cater to people who want to use buses for picnics, weekend holidays and trips and corporate travel but also by regular commuters. We will be glad to attend to these people who are ready to use private AC buses instead of waiting for trains and public transport buses.

8,500
Total number of private buses running in Mumbai and its Metropolitan Region

1,200
Number of AC buses running in Mumbai and its Metropolitan Region

25 Lakh
Total number of private vehicles in Mumbai

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