WITH the number of commuters in the city’s air-conditioned buses showing a sharp jump following a move to halve the fares, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport is set to increase the number of services of of these buses in the city.
From January 1 to June 30, only 5,177 commuters used these routes. As of July 25, the number of commuters travelling in AC buses has already gone up to 8,294. Though the undertaking’s earning from these routes has reduced by about 20 per cent in comparison to the January to June period, the ridership has shown a 60 per cent increase in only 25 days of the new fares coming into force.
At present, only 130-odd buses out of the BEST’s fleet of 279 AC buses are pressed into service on a daily basis. From August 1, two more bus routes will be added — one between Mazgaon-Airoli and the other from Goregaon to Navi Mumbai.
Enthused by the spurt in ridership, the BEST also plans to introduce point-to-point services of AC buses between CST and Nariman Point and from CST to Cuffe Parade from August. Apart from that, four more routes currently operational from Monday through Saturday will now be operated on Sunday too.
“We are expecting a further surge in commuter number by almost 80 per cent in AC buses, which will bring down the losses through the fare reduction. With the introduction of more routes and services, we believe there will be a likely increase in the number of commuters using AC buses,” said Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST.
Also, the remaining AC buses are planned to be utilised for tourism purposes. Services such as special services to the airport and to industrial hubs such as Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) will also be launched in August.
Meanwhile, figures also indicate that BEST’s move to rationalise fares on other non-AC buses has been met with a good response from commuters, especially after introduction of some special schemes. The number of daily passes issued in July after the rates were brought down has gone up to almost 32,377 passes as compared to a cumulative sale of 20,000 passes issued from January till May.
“Like AC buses, the rationalisation has surely helped increase the number of commuter using BEST buses. Though July has been a difficult month to perform an appropriate study considering the number of weekends, public holidays or rainfall received which skews the data, the figures till now has hinted at a good response. In the next month, the picture will improve, I believe,” Patil added.
The Happy Hour scheme had also reflected an increase in the number of commuters, Patil said.
“Though numbers may be showing an increase, I do not personally see a significant increase in all the routes of AC buses due to poor conditions. I still believe BEST must scrap AC buses and instead look at bettering the services of regular buses,” said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.