Sunday 17th, February 2019
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Save BEST drive gets Nagarkar on board

Published On : 14 May 2018

Mumbai, (The Hindu): The citizens’ movement to save the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) received a boost, with noted writer Kiran Nagarkar adding his voice to its cause.

On Sunday, Mr. Nagarkar and others addressed a ‘chowk meeting’ organised by Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST outside the transport utility’s staff quarters in Bhoiwada, Parel. The meeting was attended by more than 150 people, who vowed to campaign harder. “There should be more such meetings at every street corner, and we need to collectively jolt the sleeping people of this city and save BEST,” he said. “If we don’t try to save this service, then we too will be culpable in its demise.”

Mr. Nagarkar said there was a time when he had visit the doctor thrice a day, and would take a BEST bus to the clinic. “Instead of reducing routes, BEST should increase them by 500% as it is essential for the city.” In just a year or so, the number of routes have come down from 500 to 430, and many more are expected to follow suit.

The meeting was to be held inside the BEST staff quarters, but organisers said permission was denied at the last minute. Vidyadhar Date, one of the convenors of the movement, said on the matter, “Throughout history public transport has played a huge role in shaping democracy as it is a space that provides social cohesion.”

Rashmi Divekar, a member of the collective, said their main demands include lowering fare, stopping privatisation of buses, timely salaries to BEST workers, dedicated bus lanes and curbing rampant redevelopment of bus depots. “We feel that bus fare, especially for children, the disabled and senior citizens should be reduced as they are unable to get into trains during rush hour and BEST is the cheapest mode for transport. Moreover, it is clear that fare hikes have a direct impact on ridership,” she said.

The daily passenger count has been dropping steadily, from 43 lakh in 2008 to around 25 lakh at present.


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