The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is planning to run mini-buses on narrow and congested lanes, especially those in proximity to railway stations, in a bid to increase the area of coverage of the bus utility. The undertaking plans to tap new routes that could connect commuters to their work place or home, from a given railway station.
The BEST passed the proposal on Monday to procure as many as 400 mini-buses and 50 midi-buses on wet lease basis. Officials claim mini-buses, as compared to midi-buses, could be put to better use on narrow lanes that witness heavy traffic. “It was difficult to ply single deck and double deck buses on lanes which witness parking on both sides of the road, have heavy traffic or which are essentially narrow. At such times, mini-buses could be utilised better. We can also cut down travel time to a great extent as the mini-buses could cross a narrow lane quicker than a regular bus,” a senior BEST official said.
A mini-bus is 6.7 metres in length and 2.2 metres in width, and is much smaller than a regular bus. The BEST plans to procure 200 mini non-AC buses and 200 mini AC buses from two contractors. A mini- bus can seat 30 passengers.
“The essential aim would be to compete against cab aggregators that take away our riders from the road. We face great difficulties to ply buses on lanes like Chira Bazaar that see great congestion. Lanes outside Dadar West station near Kabutarkhana also witness heavy traffic. The mini-buses could ply on these roads,” a senior BEST official said. More than 60 per cent of the core ridership of BEST buses use feeder routes of the buses. BEST also plans to procure at least 40 electric buses in the coming months.
“The move, though great would increase the number of buses on roads. As we will have to increase frequency, it is further going to cause congestion (of roads). Due to its lesser passenger intake, not many will be benefited,” said Sunil Ganacharya, BJP committee member of BEST.