The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking to expand its fleet size to 7,000 buses within three months as a condition to receive grants from the corporation.According to a proposal, the BMC is willing to initially provide ₹600 crore to the ailing bus transport undertaking but has laid certain conditions. It has asked the bus undertaking to reduce the minimum fare of mini buses to ₹5 from the current ₹8. BEST will be asked to submit a report to the BMC after it complies with the conditions. The proposal will be discussed in Wednesday’s Standing Committee meetingSoon after taking charge, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi had taken a decision in May to give a grant of ₹100 crore to BEST. In a meeting with the BEST administration, the BMC had recommended wet leasing of buses to increase its fleet, giving real-time updates of a bus’s current location at bus stops, commercial exploitation of BEST assets, among other meausres.The BMC had said the BEST administration needed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the BEST Workers’ Union to settle the long-standing dispute over the wet leasing of buses. The crucial MoU was signed last week, where the administration agreed to retain 3,337 buses of its fleet while the union allowed for further fleet expansion through the wet lease model. BMC will be giving the BEST ₹600 crore as subsidy, out of which ₹400 crore will be given from its contingency fund and the rest from another fund available with BMC.Once the proposal is passed in the Standing Committee and agreed upon by all parties, the BMC will disburse ₹100 crore to the BEST. However, further disbursals will happen only once the administration starts implementing the conditions. The BMC will have to create a new budget head, for which it requires permission from the Standing Committee and corporation.Activists have said the reduction of fare was a welcome step but only if executed across all routes, and not in a piecemeal manner. “We feel grants should be made unilaterally and not with conditions to wet lease. BEST is, after all, a public service,” transport expert Hussain Indorewala said.A senior BEST official said the condition to procure 7,000 buses was difficult and the issue of fare reduction will need to be analysed better. “Our main focus was to ensure the execution of the contract given for 450 buses. We want to ensure that the buses arrive in the next few months and their operations begin,” the official said.
BMC agrees to give BEST ₹600 cr., with riders
Last Updated on: December 1st, 2019 at 2:34 pm, by