To cut its continuing losses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has proposed to increase the minimum bus fare up to Rs 12 alongside other measures, such as withdrawing allowances and subsidies for students, freedom fighters, senior citizens and others. Officials from the BEST on Saturday made a presentation to the group leaders of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on a comprehensive plan to bring down its losses. It has also proposed to downsize the fleet from 3,758 to 3,500 and scrapping of 279 buses. Besides, it has proposed cancellation of 150 bus routes and re-deployment of 450 buses, said an official.
“There is an urgent need of rationalising the bus routes, which are making huge loses for years and its fares,” said an official, adding the base fare would be hiked up to Rs 12 from Rs 8.
The official further said BEST has proposed to outsource its activities to reduce the expenses. “In the current financial year, 1,578 employees are likely to retire. Their total cost is Rs 25 crore. If it is outsourced, it will cost only Rs 10 crore, which means bringing it down to 40 per cent. Also, the officers’ posts in A category will be abolished,” said the official.
Sources said Additional Municipal Commissioner, Sanjay Mukherjee, and general manager of BEST, Jagdish Patil, have been asked to finalise the plan and submit it before the BEST committee meeting on April 6 for its approval. Then the civic body would take a stand on providing financial assistance to it, the source said.
However, the Congress has immediately opposed the BEST’s plan of withdrawing the subsidies. “Though there is a need to cut the losses, a way should be figured out to help students, freedom fighters, differently-abled and senior citizens. Why should they suffer?” said Ravi Raja, senior Congress corporator and group leader in the BMC, adding that AC bus services should be stopped immediately.