The Brihanmumbai Electric and Supply Transport (BEST), an undertaking of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), is likely to begin its much-awaited premium services from the second week of December. Lokesh Chandra, General Manager of BEST, said that with five buses, they are set to begin the premium service between Thane and Bandra Kurla Complex.
“We have identified a couple of routes of which the first will be BKC-Thane. Five buses have arrived of which three are in Regional Transport Office (RTO) and are undergoing registration. The other two are at depot and have obtained RTO clearance. These buses will ply between BKC and Thane route in peak hours. In non-peak time, they will ply within BKC as premium service only,” said the IAS officer.
The premium BEST bus service is expected to be on the lines of private cab service providers. The user can book the bus from the existing BEST Chalo mobile application, make the payment digitally and board the bus from the nearest stop. The service will be fully air-conditioned, said Chandra, adding the commuters will have a comfortable traveling experience.
On the rationale behind the premium bus service, Chandra said, “Many office goers do not use BEST as they are overcrowded. With option of premium service, these people, who largely prefer private cab as they want to travel comfortably, will also switch to BEST buses. Moreover, the BEST premium service will be affordable unlike cab service providers. It will cost Rs 5 per km, which means a trip on the BKC-Thane route should be in the range of Rs 150 to Rs 200.”
Apart from facilitating the commuters, BEST premium service will also help in reducing road occupancy, according to officials.
The service will have 200 buses via a private operator in phase 1. The fleet will gradually expand to 2,000 buses by 2024.
BEST has tied up with a private operator – Ashok Leyland – on a revenue-share model as part of which the operator will share 4 per cent of earning every month with BEST in return of which it will be allowed to use BEST facilities like bus stops , parking at the depot among others. The drivers of these buses will be provided by the operator.