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BEST gains at the cost of autos

BEST gains at the cost of autos

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus service has been trying hard to woo customers and increase their ridership in the past few months. One significant step in this direction was the reduction in the base fares.

As per the BEST officials, through this move and other efforts they have been able to win back nearly three lakh riders from autos in the last three months. On the other hand, in the last three months, BEST’s daily commuters have increased from 32 lakh to around 35 lakh.

BEST had revised the fares for its buses in July 2019. Under the revised scheme, it started charging ₹6 for AC bus ride for a journey of 5km or less while a non-AC fare for a similar journey is ₹5. In addition to this fare cut, BEST is also looking at expanding its network. In the past few months, it has introduced 525 services, including 325 AC minibuses, on feeder routes outside railway stations, connecting commercial business districts and thickly populated housing colonies.

Also Read: BEST Starts Its Free Services For BMC School Kids

All this has helped in increasing the ridership for the Bus service. However, what has been a gain for the BEST bus has been a loss for the autos. Between the years 2016 to 2019, the ridership for autos had increased from six lakhs riders to 12 lakh. However, in the last three months, the ridership has gone down to 9 lakh.

As per the auto drivers, people are looking for reliability as well as affordability and this has helped them to gain the numbers in the recent past.

However, there is a bigger task in front of the BEST. On one hand, it has been grappling with the issue of running its busses without conductors and will have to see how it will manage to do in the near future. Also in order to sustain these numbers, it will have to make sure that commuters continue to see the BEST services as a “reliable” options that help them to commute conveniently and also in a stipulated time frame.

In addition to this, it will have to continue to add new routes and tweak the existing ones to make sure that it can get its balance sheet back in the black zone. Currently, BEST has asked to create a special grant for the transport wing. The reason for this demand is the mounting losses that it is dealing with. As per estimates for the year 2020-21, its deficit will stand at a whopping INR 2,350 crores.

While the drop in the prices helped the BEST bus in increasing the chunk of the ridership, getting revenues to increase is another story. From July, when the price cut was announced, the revenues for BEST buses have gone from INR 2.60 crore to ₹1.70 crores.

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