The Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) has prepared a preliminary report on rationalisation of its 230 air-conditioned buses running on 28 existing loss-making routes in Mumbai.
Besides fleet utilisation,the study looks at issues such as point-to-point bus services,possible Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) routes and need for introduction of new AC buses and routes.
As part of the study,the state government advisory body has surveyed 3,000 passengers who use other modes of transport in addition to several AC bus commuters.
It had also surveyed 55 corporates with offices in the commercial hubs of Nariman Point,Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC),Lower Parel and SEEPZ-MIDC in Andheri.
Additional services cannot run without improving speed,frequency and punctuality. While frequency and punctuality can be achieved even under present situation,speed requires us to have more point-to-point services and dedicated bus routes, said MTSU director BC Khatua.
The study examined two existing routes Thane-Nariman Point and Thane-Sion route and found that a majority of the pick-ups and drop-offs are concentrated in less than 50 per cent of the stops.
For instance,of the 31 boarding and alighting points in the Thane-Nariman Point AC route,87 per cent passengers are from 16 points.
If some of the AC buses skip the less crowded stops then we can save a good 30 minutes on the two-hour long trip, said Khatua.
According to data gathered by the agency,the swelling population over the past three decades ironically has not led to a corresponding surge in the number of bus commuters.
In 1981,a total of 43 lakh commuters travelled in 1,975 buses daily. As of today only 43.7 lakh commuters travel by BEST buses,despite a manifold population growth and the fleet increasing to 4,313 buses.
Khatua said the dwindling numbers are mainly due to discomfort caused by the traffic congestion and pollution on roads leading to 20 lakh cars pouring into Mumbais roads daily while those who cannot afford it prefer the overcrowded trains.
The study is also looking into the possibility of implementing BRTS on Mumbais roads such as the Eastern and Western Express Highways,the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) and the proposed Santacruz-Chembur link Road.
Khatua admitted that space for BRTS is a constraint in Mumbai. For instance,of the total 10.5 km of the JVLR only 7.5 km has four lanes,which can be partly used for dedicated bus routes. Mumbai has a unique problem of being a linear city surrounded by sea on three sides. It has no place for further expansion of roads,no ring roads and not enough arterial roads, he said.
On Thursday,MTSU officials will hold a meeting with the BKC association to work out various issues in addition to discussing the introduction of two new routes namely the Charkop-BKC route and the Opera House-BKC route for the thousands of diamond merchants shuttling to and fro the BKC Diamond Bourse complex.