₹ 8-12 hike in fares on long routes un­fair: Com­muters

Sena Against Wet-Leas­ing Of Midi Buses

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Somit.Sen@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: The BEST panel’s vote for an in­crease in bus fares has not gone down well with city’s com­muters. Ravin­dra Gaik­wad, a reg­u­lar com­muter from Thane, slammed the de­ci­sion, say­ing, “A Rs 8-12 hike on longer routes is un­called for.”

BEST buses run across the is­land city and the sub­urbs, be­sides Thane and Navi Mum­bai, fer­ry­ing 30 lakh com­muters daily.

The fare hike pro­posal was part of re­forms sug­gested by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to pull the trans­port un­der­tak­ing out of the red.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2018-19 bud­get, BEST will in­cur losses of up to Rs 880 crore, and if the re­forms are in­cor­po­rated, it can re­duce its losses by nearly Rs 650 crore. The fare hike is ex­pected to fetch up to Rs 60 crore an­nu­ally.

While the Shiv Sena voted in full strength for the hike, BJP mem­bers ab­stained from vot­ing. In­ci­den­tally, those from the Congress, NCP and MNS were not present at the bud­get meet­ing. Sena mem­bers, though, ob­jected to a few pro­posed re­forms—mainly “wet-leas­ing” of buses.

In a wet-lease, a pri­vate con­trac­tor pro­vides a bus along with a driver. The main­te­nance and in­sur­ance cost is also the con­trac­tor’s re­spon­si­bil­ity while BEST pro­vides a con­duc­tor and earns from ticket sales.

“We have cleared the fare hike pro­posal and other re­forms. But we have put the brakes on wet-leas­ing of buses,” said Shiv Sena’s Suhas Sa­mant.

The rul­ing party also ob­jected to a cut in dear­ness and a few other al­lowances of BEST staffers. “BEST will even­tu­ally merge with the BMC, and there­fore there is no need to cut these al­lowances,” he said.

BEST gen­eral man­ager Suren­draku­mar Bagde said, “There is no need to op­pose wet-leas­ing of buses as it is suc­cess­ful in sev­eral cities. It will bring down op­er­a­tional costs and we can ply midi buses to re­duce con­ges­tion and im­prove fre­quency.”

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