Mumbai, (The Hindu): Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, on an average, run a lot less every day than they used to a few years ago. This is one of the reasons behind the drop in revenue from ticket sales in 2017-18.
The average run of BEST buses at present is 170 km, against around 180 km a few years ago, Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager, BEST, told the committee on Thursday. “Due to increasing congestion and traffic jams on account of metro constructions, our buses make fewer trips,” Mr. Bagde said. The transport utility’s revenue from ticket sales has gone down by 117 crore in 2017-18.
Mr. Bagde was participating in a discussion on the integrated ticketing system. Many committee members said the administration should focus on the the ticketing woes. The committee attributed the revenue loss to the malfunctioning electronic ticket issuing machines (ETIM).
Committee member and Congress corporator Ravi Raja said the general manager should be held responsible. Mr. Bagde said the system has not completely failed, and that around 85% of their ticketing revenue still come from ETIMs.
“We still have people renewing their passes. Why would they do it if machines were malfunctioning,” he said. Mr. Bagde also pointed out that the overall costs of the transport wing have reduced. “While the ticket sales revenue has come down, one must look at the full picture. Our costs have also reduced by 165 crore.”
However, committee members reacted sharply. “Only 2,900 buses of a fleet of 3,300 are operational and hence the costs have reduced,” Mr. Raja said.
BJP corporator Sunil Ganacharya said the justification is ridiculous. “If I own a car and don’t run it, I will not incur any costs. The reduction in costs has also come with a drop in services.”
The loss in revenue is an indication of the declining popularity of the bus service, which is the second largest mode of mass transportation after the railways, and provides last-mile connectivity.
The daily ridership of the service has been in a steady decline for the last few years owing to a range of issues such as poor punctuality, rising ticket prices, and frequent breakdowns.
Mr. Raja claimed daily passenger count has dropped to 22 lakh. While officials said the figure stands close to around 28 lakh, it is still a huge dip from 42 lakh a decade ago.
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