As part of a plan to revive the BEST bus service, the transport undertaking announced a new minimum fare of Rs 5 up to a distance of five km, against the earlier minimum fare of Rs 8 for a distance of two km.
This was the condition on which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) agreed to give BEST an initial grant of Rs 100 crore out of a promised Rs 600 crore.
A senior BEST official told The Indian Express there will now be only four fare slabs — 5 km, 10 km, 15 km and over 15 km. The fare will be Rs 10 for the second slab, Rs 15 for 15 km and beyond that the fare will rise to Rs 20.
Fares of AC buses will be higher at Rs 6 for the minimum slab, Rs 13 for 10 km, Rs 18 for 15 km, and Rs 24 for more than 15 km.
The fare restructuring has been done to attract more commuters to ensure that the loss making transport service does not fold up, the official said.
He also said that the bus fleet would be doubled. Currently BEST has 3,337 buses in its fleet. The BMC has laid down conditions that in order to improve its financial health, BEST must undertake various reforms, including permitting wet leasing of buses. This had become a point of contention with the BEST Workers’ Union, but after the signing of an MoU with the union that there would be no cutback from its own fleet, BEST has now ordered 450 buses on wet lease.
“Our target is to have 6,000 buses. By the end of this year we may have 1,950 new buses in our fleet. Out these, 450 buses have been ordered and for other 1,500 buses, request for proposal will be floated in upcoming week. 1,000 buses will be mini-midi buses and 500 buses will be electric buses,” the official said.