ON THE first day of introducing reduced bus fares, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) saw 29 per cent increase in its ridership but a 31 per cent dip in revenue generated. The transport undertaking has slashed the minimum fare to Rs 5.
According to data provided by the BEST administration, on July 8, the total number of passengers who travelled by BEST buses was 17.15 lakh and the revenue generated was Rs 2.12 crore.
However, on July 9, the first day of reduced fares, the total number of commuters increased to 22.18 lakh from which BEST generated a revenue of Rs 1.45 crore. Officials said before reducing the minimum fare to Rs 5, on weekdays, on an average, less than 17 lakh passengers travelled by BEST buses daily.
Miles to go
While slashing minimum fare to Rs 5 saw an increase in ridership, the BEST is in need of an urgent infrastructural upgrade to attract lost commuters. Still seen as the most important public transport service in the city, second only to local trains, the BEST needs to be more commuter-friendly, punctual and reliable. With the state government keen on rolling out passenger water transport in Mumbai, the BEST must do more to stay relevant.
On July 9, BEST put into effect new fares for its buses. The minimum fare was reduced from Rs 8 to Rs 5 for non air-conditioned buses. For AC buses, the minimum fare was fixed at Rs 6. With the new fare, within 24 hours, on July 9, the BEST received five lakh extra passengers excluding pass holders.
The fare was reduced for reviving BEST transport that has incurred losses over the past few years. The move is seen as an attempt to shore up falling commuter base. The fare cut was part of the undertaking’s revival initiative by which it expects ridership to increase from 25 lakh to over 50 lakh.
However, according to the BEST administration, once new buses will be added to the fleet, it will boost the revenue as well. As of now, BEST has a fleet of 3,200 buses, including 25 AC buses.
By the end of the year, BEST will have new 1,950 buses. In next six months, 480 buses, including 80 electric buses, will be added to its fleet. New buses will give the transport undertaking the freedom to add extra routes, which in turn will help generate revenue and increase ridership.