Mumbai’s, newly launched BEST electric bus service has run into a controversy over the issue of its fares. While officials of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Department said that the bus service fares have not been approved by the regulator- Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), the BEST administration claimed its policy-making body has given its nod to the fares.
This Sunday, Maharashtra’s Environment and Tourism Minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray inaugurated 60 new electric buses of the point-to-point service of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST). The service became operation for the public on Tuesday, October 12.
According to the BEST, passengers will have to pay ₹75 for travelling from the city airport to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), ₹125 to Nehru Planetarium in Worli, ₹150 to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), and ₹175 to reach Hotel Trident and the Gateway of India in south Mumbai from the airport.
However, several passengers have claimed the fares were exorbitant as compared to the normal BEST fares, which are in the range of ₹5 to 20 for ordinary buses, and ₹6 to ₹25 for AC buses for similar distances.
Now, the MMRTA member Avinash Dhakane and State Transport Commissioner confirmed that the transport authority had not received any proposal about the bus service fare. But the BEST administration claimed that its committee approved the fare of the electric buses. “The fare has received approval from the BEST committee,” a spokesperson of the undertaking said.
An ex-official of the Motor Vehicles department said without the MMRTA’s approval the fare structure cannot be implemented. A V Shenoy, a transport activist, said the service is a good initiative to help passengers travelling to and from the airport, but claimed that its fare structure cannot be implemented without MMRTA’s approval.
The BEST transport undertaking has been continuously running in losses, and it depends on its power distribution business for financial gains. Earlier this month, the undertaking presented a deficit budget of ₹2,236.48 crore for the transport vertical for FY23.
The BEST bus services are available in Mumbai and neighbouring cities, including Thane, Mira-Bhayander, and Navi Mumbai. Around 25 lakh passengers travel daily in the BEST buses.
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