To make up for a deficit of Rs 90 crore per month in its operations, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has begun revising the nominal rents that it receives against its properties and also putting its bus stations and depots on rent.
In a first of batch tenders floated last month for 19 such commercial spaces, overwhelming response has been received for 13 bus stations and depots spread across Kandivali, Ghatkopar, Bhoiwada, Mulund Check Naka, Colaba, Bandra and Oshiwara.
A senior BEST official said, “For our property at Andheri bus station, against the quoted price of Rs 113 per sq ft, we have received a quotation for Rs 480 per sq ft. Similarly, for Ghatkopar and Mulund, against quote price of Rs 38 per sq ft, we have received quotes of Rs 51.77 sq ft for each.”
These 13 properties, the officials said, would fetch BEST a revenue of Rs 25 lakh per month and about Rs 3 crore a year. “These properties have been lying empty… we are trying to generate revenue without touching the fares,” the official said.
Among the 13, two prime properties at Colaba depot were put on rent for merely Rs 127 per sq ft. In the tenders, while BEST quoted a price of Rs 350 per sq ft, it received a quotation of Rs 405 per sq ft and Rs 360 per sq ft for the two properties.
Officials said this move had become imperative, as subsidised fares for buses had only added to BEST’s losses. While operating its buses costs BEST about Rs 120 crore per month, it manages to recover merely Rs 52 crore as tariff from commuters, officials added. “Another Rs 6 crore is generated through advertisements, but every month, BEST faces a loss of around Rs 90 crore,” said an official.
“We want to work out ways to ensure that at least 85 per cent of the cost incurred in bus operations is recovered. We are exploring several ways to generate non-fare revenue,” the official added.
The BEST had projected a deficit of 2,249.74 crore in its budget estimate for its transport wing in 2020-21. The budget was returned by the BMC standing committee, which has asked BEST to rework and send a surplus budget. According to BEST officials, the hiring of buses for wet leasing to improve operations along with the new wage agreement had led to an increase in its expenditure, which is three times more than the estimated budget of 2019-20, pegged at Rs 729.14 crore.