With their LED boards defunct, BEST resorts to 'paper trail'
While most public agencies would want to make move forward when it comes to modernising the amenities offered by them, the BEST administration seems to be on an inexorable roll backwards, regressing from Light Emitting Diodes (LED) to pen and paper.
Believe it or not, the BEST authorities have resorted to computer printouts to display the number and route on several of its buses. In some cases, it’s simply a piece of paper, with the number scrawled with a felt pen.
The regression can be attributed to the deplorable condition of LED indicators, which are either defunct or malfunctioning owing to lack of maintenance. These indicators were originally installed to display bus numbers and routes of the buses.
The 1,084 buses in the BEST fleet are fitted with LED indicators — one inside the bus and one each on the front, rear and side. Of these, indicators in 675 buses aren’t working. This means that indicators in almost 62 per cent of buses equipped with them aren’t serving their purpose.
Of the 1,084 buses, 284 are air-conditioned. 514 of the non-AC buses and 161 of the AC buses are running with malfunctioning LED boards. As a result, printouts or hand written sheets are displayed on the windowpanes opposite the driver’s seat and below the existing display board on the side.
BEST Committee members are outraged by the poor condition of the buses, especially in the wake of fare hikes. “When the administration has hiked fares, it is their duty to at least provide good display boards on buses. I saw a couple of buses with printouts on the boards, displaying bus routes. This isn’t acceptable,” said Ravi Raja, member, BEST committee.
Commuters too are being inconvenienced, finding it impossible to identify the bus routes, especially after dark. “Neither the LED boards work nor are the fonts written on paper big enough to be seen from afar. We have to wait till the bus comes close to the stop,” said Kinjal Gala, who uses BEST bus services to travel to work.
The installation of these LED indicators has been an expensive affair, with each bus being fitted with them at a cost of Rs 1.5 lakh. “A person standing at the bus-stop can hardly read these manual indicators. When asked about the LED boards, the conductor replies that there is technical problem. The administration doesn’t seem to be doing anything,” said Prasad Sakpal, president of the BEST Bus Passenger Welfare Association.
While LED indicators display 250 routes in a single bus, cloth indicators can display only 40 routes.
The other side
A BEST official said, “These buses having LED indicators were obtained under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and were supposed to work for many years. But the climatic conditions and pollution affected the performance of these LED indicators,” said a BEST official. A Tamboli, senior BEST spokesperson, said, “We are dedicated to the service of citizens. Hence, the Undertaking has developed an in-house technology to attend to these electronic devices at once.”