The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Trust (BEST) is planning to revive the ridership of its loss-making air-conditioned buses by increasing their number and initiating sustained efforts into their maintenance.
The reason is stated to be a positive response to a dip in fares implemented last year. BEST had reduced the number of these buses on the road to 100 last year due to no visible rise in ridership. However, official records show that after halving the fares its ridership has actually doubled by more than 50 per cent in comparison to the year before.
“We saw a positive increase in the number of commuters travelling by AC buses after the fares were slashed last July. It was followed by an increase in demand for which we provided some extra buses in September. In all, 218 AC buses now ply on the road in comparison to 100 earlier,” said a senior BEST official. According to official figures received from BEST office, the number of commuters has increased by 62.5 per cent from 2,49,417 in August 2015 to 4,05,340 passengers in August 2016 (after fares were halved).
At the same time, the service’s earnings from passengers reduced by 12 per cent to Rs 1 crore 80 lakh from almost Rs 2 crore. “As the rates were halved, there was a simultaneous dip in the passenger earning. However, this number gradually improved and we saw a daily average passenger count of 18,000 in December with an average earning of Rs 3,00,00. Seeing this response, we decided to increase the number of buses,” said Jagdish Patil,General Manager, BEST.
AC buses have for long been considered the ‘white-elephant’ of the bleeding undertaking. The revenue AC buses made was hardly enough when compared to the revenue from non-AC buses, and they consumed more funds for their maintenance and upkeep. More info
By Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai indianexpress.com