BEST plans buses at 3-min frequency

BEST plans buses at 3-min frequency thumbnail
MUMBAI: BEST management, at the budget meeting on Thursday, said it plans to run buses at a frequency of three-four minutes by introducing 1,000 midi and mini AC buses on wet lease across the city. This will attract at least 1,000 new commuters daily, said BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde.

His plan was opposed by the biggest employees’ union, BEST Workers’ Union, which got a court stay on procurement of buses on wet lease. Union leader Shashank Rao opposed wet leasing as he fears workers will lose jobs due to ‘privatisation’ in BEST.

Under the wet lease model, the new buses will be owned, maintained and driven by private contractors, who will also pay for fuel, while BEST will only deploy conductors to collect revenue through ticket sales and generate income through advertisements. The contractors will be provided bus depots for parking.

Bagde said he had recently introduced circular bus routes with midi buses in areas such as Churchgate and Dadar, and saw a surge in commuters. “It has resulted in migration of passengers from share taxis,” he said.

BEST panel member Sunil Ganacharya said wet leasing will result in savings of only Rs 18 crore. “If you look at annual losses of nearly Rs 1,000 crore for the transport wing, saving Rs 18 crore is a small amount,” he told the meeting.

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