BKC office goers most impacted by the BEST-MMRDA tussle

BKC office goers most impacted by the BEST-MMRDA tussle

Commuters, especially office-goers, that travel between Bandra and Kurla have been facing various issues such as unruly auto drivers, traffic jams, overcrowded streets among others. However, there has been an addition to their woes. A financial tussle between the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has resulted in the diversion of 25 air-conditioned hybrid buses that ran between the two routes.

MMRDA and BEST are under the leadership of Shiv Sena. The transport wing has complained that MMRDA owes it more than ₹7 crores whereas the MMRDA says that it has handed over the buses to BEST instead of the past debts.

In 2018, MMRDA had bought the said hybrid buses - painted yellow and silver with 'Make In India' logos - and the transport wing operated them, under a memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties. According to the data by BEST until September 2019, close to 2.67 lakh passengers were using the service per month. BEST earned ₹28.05 per kilometre where it cost the bus company ₹143.95/km to keep the service going. As per the terms of the MoU, MMRDA was supposed to reimburse BEST by paying - a 'viability gap fund'.

But now, BEST has re-deployed these buses around the city on feeder routes connecting railway stations and office hubs. The transport wing charges ₹6 for the service, as per its revised rates. 

Anil Patankar, the chairman of the BEST Committee told Mumbai Mirror that they were running the said buses as regular AC buses on feeder routes and would not consider them as part of their fleet till MMRDA pays them their allegedly due funds worth ₹7 crores. He added that a discussion for the same had been held with the BEST administration.

Meanwhile, as per another BEST official, the company was in talks with MMRDA to resolve the issue of viability gap funding.

Now as a conversation between the two parties goes on, the office-goers are marred with lack of public transport on a vital route, i.e. Bandra-Kurla. The office-goers have to pay ₹20-₹40 per seat in autorickshaws, depending on which area of BKC they want to go to. Alongside, they are at all times at the mercy of the rickshaw drivers.

In the meantime, MMRDA claims that they have transferred ownership of the vehicles to BEST after approval from the Chief Minister's Office.

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