Suburban trains may be the lifeline of Mumbai, but the buses run by the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) are critical to public transportation in the Maximum City.
BEST buses carried 1.2 billion passengers in 2014-15, second only to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corp, when it comes to metro city buses in India. Bangalore MTC carried 1.9 billion passengers.
But BEST lags on many other parameters. For example, when it comes to the average age of buses, BEST’s fleet is the oldest at 8.4 years, though it did not report any over-aged bus in the year 2014-15.
Similarly, BEST reported a low fuel efficiency of 2.84 km per litre of diesel and 2.70 km/kg of CNG. The Delhi Transport Corporation’s fuel efficiency measured in terms of km/kg of CNG was even lower at 2.38 km. BEST has the highest staff to bus ratio of 8:4. Consequently, its staff productivity (measured in terms of number of kilometres per bus per day) was the lowest barring Kolkata buses. BEST buses also had the lowest occupancy rate of 56.17 per cent, while Chandigarh state transport buses had 92 per cent. (See table)
That said, all state-owned metro city bus companies are making losses. Delhi’s transport undertaking had the biggest loss of Rs 3,991 crore in 2014-15. BEST was second on that list, incurring a loss of Rs 846 crore. Bangalore MTC, which reported revenue of Rs 2,256 crore, incurred losses of Rs 65 crore, making it the largest as well as best-run metro bus service in the country.