Fifty air-conditioned (AC) buses to cater to only women passengers are set to hit the roads of Mumbai soon. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), the bus utility in the city, plans to float these buses in the city soon. Named ‘Tejaswini’, the project is likely to see mini-buses with female drivers and conductors. The government had cleared the proposal for the women’s special buses in November last year. The buses that will be fully reserved for women only will ply during the morning and evening peak hours, that is, from 7 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 9 pm.
According to senior officials from BEST, the design of these buses has been finalised. Officials said while the company has been short-listed, the proposal needs to be approved by the committee. “The state government had asked BEST to run 25 such big buses. However, we have instead divided them between two sets of 25 AC mini-buses each. We will decide the route of these buses according to the demand of commuters,” said Sanjay Bhagwat, the additional general manager, BEST.
The government has decided to provide a financial assistance of Rs 50 crore as an initial cost for 150 Tejaswini buses to ply in other places including Navi Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli and Nagpur. The total cost for purchasing 300 buses is Rs 90 crores. “The buses will be a big boost for ensuring the return of loyal commuters of the undertaking. As the rates will be at par with those of other regular services in the undertaking, women should be able to benefit from this move,” Bhagwat added.
Officials said that while certain companies have been short-listed, the proposal will need to be approved by the committee. The undertaking is also carrying out a study to rationalise routes in the city. There would be more bus services on routes that see maximum traffic, while trips on unpopular routes would be reduced, they said.
“We are undertaking a study to understand which routes are more popular. It will also try to analyse if we could employ more services in those routes dominated by taxis and rickshaws,” a senior BEST official said. “The rationalisation will also include extension of time of trips which see less crowd. So for example if ten people use a single trip on that route, we will delay its trip by ten minutes so that more commuters can use the service,” he added.
The undertaking does not eye reduction of any routes at present. Out of the 483 routes on which buses are plied by the undertaking, most have failed to recover operational cost.