'Why can't BEST buses run at 100% capacity?', ask commuters

Updated: 10 October, 2020 07:42 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Commuters say 50% passenger load allowed in the city buses now is leading to crowding and endless queues at bus stops

Commuters wait for BEST buses at the Sion circle. File pic/Atul Kamble
Commuters wait for BEST buses at the Sion circle. File pic/Atul Kamble

Are the buses of other fleets free of pandemic?" ask the BEST, as the committee members and the passengers demand that the city's new lifeline runs at full capacity, just like the MSRTC and private tourist buses.

The transport commissioner has allowed the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and private tourist buses to run at 100 per cent capacity, but the BEST buses are running with only 50 per cent passenger load to maintain physical distancing as per the COVID-19 guidelines.

"BEST buses are crowded as if they have been allowed to ply at full capacity. No one is following the rules. The reality is that in the name of the rule to run at half the capacity, many bus drivers skip stops and harass passengers. This leads to crowding and endless queues at bus stops. If other public transport buses are allowed to run at full capacity, why not BEST?" Vikas Mahajan, a banker, asked.

A BEST committee member asked, "Are the buses of other fleets free of pandemic? Because buses have been allowed to run at just 50 per cent capacity, the BEST Undertaking needed a bigger fleet and so, we had to hire the MSRTC buses at Rs 75 per km, which is unfair."

"Local trains are not back on track fully, so the pressure on BEST buses has increased and in turn has led to crowding. If BEST buses are allowed to ferry passengers at full capacity, they would be able to accommodate more passengers," Namarata Shah-Nayak, another commuter said.

In the absence of local trains for the general public, BEST buses have become the new lifeline for the city, ferrying the working population. After the MSRTC buses were inducted in the fleet, the number of passengers reached 18 lakh.

While BEST officials refused to speak on record, they said if allowed to run at 100 per cent capacity, they would definitely be able to take more passengers at the base depot and there would be lesser crowds on the street. "While we agree that buses have been crowded, we have been taking care to maintain protocols wherever possible in the larger benefit of the society," he added.

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First Published: 10 October, 2020 07:41 IST

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