The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) operates a large number of bus services in Mumbai with 4000 buses plying over 365 routes covering neighbouring cities like Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayandar. Dr Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST throws light on BEST’s plan for modernization of fleet, dedicated bus lanes and Integrated Ticketing System.
More technology for buses
BEST is going to implement the GPS-based sms facility for all buses including AC buses on routes in island city and suburbs. This facility will help the commuter can get information like the expected time of arrival (ETA) of buses by sending the bus stop code number to a dedicated helpline. Within seconds, he/she will receive information about the buses and the ETA.
There are also plans to install electronic display indicators at bus stops in Mumbai. These indicators will give an ETA of all buses arriving at that particular stop which is similar to the indicators used for trains.
The GPS facility is being used to keep track on movement of all buses. The hand-held ticketing machine of the conductor is also GPS enabled which can communicate to a centralised database. This will help us keep track on number of tickets sold on a particular route and the number of passengers travelling. We get instant data on the lines of suburban train. BEST presently announces for the benefit of its commuters the names of the next stop. The BEST has installed LCD screens in its buses. Using the GPS service, the name of the next bus stop is flashed on the screen and also announced.
We have also installed CCTV cameras in all buses.
What are your plans to make bus services more attractive and passenger-friendly?
BEST has proposed to purchase 50 small buses with 25-40 seats for a convenient travel on Mumbai’s busy roads. Small buses help in reducing travel time during peak hours and bring down operational costs. Our experience teaches us that people are willing to pay more, provided we are able to operate the buses with punctuality. For this purpose, we are in discussions with the traffic police and the BMC authorities for a dedicated bus corridor.
The BEST committee recently cleared a proposal for procuring 303 buses at a cost of Rs 51lakh each. A majority of funding will come from the BMC, which has assured a Rs 100Cr grant for the contract. The brand new buses in the BEST fleet will be a metre longer than the regular bus, providing more leg space besides mobile charging points, wi-fi facility, and automatic transmission for driving comfort, in-bus entertainment, new seat design and forced air circulation similar to that in local trains. Each bus will have engine Euro-IV compliant of pollution norms and will reduce pollution levels on city roads. It will have automatic transmission which will put less strain on drivers and the vehicle can be maneuvered with ease. These buses are expected to be on road by March next year, will be fitted with GPS/GPRS and passengers can track the location using the Passenger Information System.
Besides, around 25 hybrid buses may hit the roads in coming months. There are plans to convert some of our existing buses (CNG Diesel) into electric vehicles and for this provision of a special grant of Rs 10Cr has been made by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. These buses will run completely on battery with no emission and reduced noise & air pollution. We will opt for the Lithium battery with high-speed charging, which will ensure a travel of 160km for every charge. Moreover, the BEST supplies electricity in the island city, so it will not be difficult to set up charging points and it would require just half an hour for a single charge.
Apart from that we have asked the JJ Institute of Applied Art to come up with ‘attractive and Innovative’ colours for the buses to attract more commuters. We will be able to present new look of the buses for the daily passengers very soon.