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  Metros   Mumbai  14 Jul 2019  Mumbai welcomes BEST cut in fares

Mumbai welcomes BEST cut in fares

THE ASIAN AGE. | DEVASHRI BHUJBAL
Published : Jul 14, 2019, 7:06 am IST
Updated : Jul 14, 2019, 7:06 am IST

The BEST decided to slash fares of its regular as well as AC buses recently.

In what may be a first of its kind outreach effort, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is aggressively wooing commuters to ride buses at reduced fares, which came into effect on July 9.
 In what may be a first of its kind outreach effort, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is aggressively wooing commuters to ride buses at reduced fares, which came into effect on July 9.

Mumbai: In what may be a first of its kind outreach effort, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is aggressively wooing commuters to ride buses at reduced fares, which came into effect on July 9.

At some bus stops, BEST bus drivers, conductors and ticket collectors were spotted holding placards informing commuters about the revised fare. They were also making regular announcements on megaphones to encourage public to take the bus for just Rs 5.

There is a visible buzz on social media too, with commuters welcoming the unprecedented cut in fare. While many commuters have posted their pictures with the new Rs 5 ticket on social media, others even noticed a marked improvement in BEST’s ridership.

The BEST decided to slash fares of its regular as well as AC buses recently.

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While the revised minimum fare in a regular bus is Rs 5, the maximum can go up to Rs 20. The minimum fare in an AC bus is Rs 6, which can go up to Rs 25. The fare slab for regular (non-AC) buses are now Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20, while it is Rs 6, Rs 13, Rs 19 and Rs 25 for AC buses.

The BEST’s latest move comes at a time when it is facing flak for its poor service. The BEST used to ferry 42.06 lakh passengers every day a decade ago and aims to again reach that figure after the fare cut.

The average daily ridership of BEST buses stands at 26.20 lakh, down from 28.34 lakh for the same period last year. BEST is unable to recover even its operational costs.  

“After around eight years, on Wednesday, I took the bus from Bandra station. It was a new experience to travel on such a low fare,” Piyusha Shete, a resident of Bandra, said.

The impact of revised fare has already been felt on the ridership. On Wednesday, ridership rose by 32 per cent compared to Monday.  On Thursday, the number of passengers rose by 42 percent when compared to Monday.

On Thursday, sale of single tickets accounted for 24.36 lakh passengers as opposed to 17.15 lakh passengers on Monday (July 8) — the last day of the old fare.

Fare reduction was long due: Transport experts

Transport experts have welcomed the BEST’s fare reduction move but have added that it was a step that the BEST had to take and not a willful decision.

The experts revealed that the transport department had suggested four years ago that fare reduction was the only way to get back the commuters who had migrated to other means of transport.

The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport  (BEST) fare reduction is also likely to pressurise taxi and auto-rickshaw unions to either reduce their fares or put a stay on further hikes, experts said.

Shirish Deshpande from the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat said, “The number of bus passengers will increase gradually. It is still a deficit and a lot many passengers will be required for the breakthrough. The ticket per passenger now is less but fare reduction will definitely attract the lost commuters”.

“BEST can afford speedy, economical and comfortable travel if it betters its services and rationalises route operations. If it attracts maximum short-distance commuters, the taxis and autos will also rethink fare reduction to sustain competition. Thus, public transport will become affordable,” said Mr Deshpande.

Vidyadhar Date, Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST forum said, “The revised fare has been widely welcomed by the public and it was the need of the hour. However, when BEST is taking over 400 buses on wet lease, the hired buses should retain the BEST red colour and logo as attraction for commuters. It also gives safety.”

Tags: brihanmumbai electricity supply and transport, auto-rickshaw