The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to hand over 25 loss-making electric buses it was operating to the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).
The buses, owned by the MMRDA and operated by the BEST, were running on Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC), Dahisar and on a few routes in Mulund.
On August 26, 2015, the development authority had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tata Motors for supplying 25 electric buses, to be procured at a cost of Rs 13.50 crore. The buses had been operational from September 2017.
The minimum fare of these hybrid buses was Rs 15, while the maximum ranged from Rs 90 to Rs 110. The buses, however, did not have the requisite ridership and the MMRDA is said to have been making losses to the tune of Rs 8 crore on these vehicles.
MMRDA officials said that they have decided to hand over the buses to BEST as the agency was expanding its operations and also looking at leasing buses from contractors.
From July 9, the BEST had reduced its fares — minimum fare on a non-AC bus is Rs 5, while it is Rs 6 for an AC bus. After the implementation of its revised fare, the transport authority is said to be have witnessed 31 per cent increase in commuters. A senior officer from the BEST said that most of commuters increase was seen on shorter routes and in AC buses. “That is why we have planned to take MMRDA’s hybrid electric buses,” the officer said.
The BEST has also decided to wet lease 1,950 buses.
Currently, BEST has a fleet of 3,200 buses, which includes 25 AC buses. By the end of the year, BEST is planning to have 1,950 more buses. In next six months, 480 buses, including 80 electric buses, will be added to BEST’s fleet.
The new buses, officials said, will give BEST freedom to add extra routes which will help in generating more revenue and commuters.