IN ITS maiden attempt to compete with kaali peelis (black-and-yellow taxis), the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) utility has introduced feeder bus services in the southern parts of the city. The ‘ring-routes’, as they are referred to, will provide short trips to connect commuters to major railway stations such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Churchgate.
A feeder service is meant to be a short route with few halts, to ensure more repetitions of the trip. The BEST has introduced two feeder routes — bus number 99 and bus number 113 — to be run during peak hours from Monday and Wednesday this week, respectively. While the first bus will halt at specific stops between Churchgate station and Nariman Point, the second bus is to cater to the crowd originating from Crawford Market.
“We used to get a lot of complaints from commuters about the nuisance created by taxis in south Mumbai. We realised that we do not provide enough services for some places between Crawford Market and Churchgate station. We have introduced the new buses with this commuter crowd in mind,” a senior BEST official said.
The duration of these routes will be between 20 and 30 minutes, and they will cover a distance of about three km.
“The repetition of the trips ensures more commuters are benefited by the service.Considering they are are short-distance routes, the fares range from Rs8 to Rs.10. Such trips are likely to ensure more commuters leave kaali peelis and choose buses,” the official added.
Over the few years, BEST’s ridership has been affected due to the stiff competition from other modes of transport, such as kaali peelis and auto rickshaws. Its daily average passenger count has fallen from 42 lakh in 2010 to almost 28 lakh last year.
“This is our first step in introducing feeder services. We are exploring more options to introduce such services to commuters,” the official said.
“The new route between Crawford market and Churchgate is the need of the hour. The constant wait for taxis in this area becomes troublesome. The bus service is also cheaper than a taxi,” said Raju Siddique, a commuter.
The undertaking later plans to introduce feeder services to proposed stations of the Metro 3 between Colaba and SEEPZ. Increasing services between Dindoshi and Maghatane for Metro Line 7 (Dahisar East -Andheri East) and between Malad, Oshiwara and Goregaon for Metro Line 2 (Dahisar-D N Nagar) is also on the cards.