New Delhi: The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) committee has proposed a reduction in bus fares across Mumbai from a minimum fare of Rs 8 to Rs 5 for the first 5 km and a maximum fare of Rs 20 for travel across the city. The fare cut, which is an attempt to boost ridership and income, is likely to be implemented from the first week of July. A BEST official reportedly said, “With this move, we hope to attract larger numbers of passengers who otherwise are moving over to cab aggregators. We also intend to introduce measures as part of Mumbai’s revamp under the Smart City initiative.”

Notably, the minimum AC bus fare has been brought down from Rs 20 to Rs 6 and the maximum fare has been kept at Rs 25, as per the decision taken at the BEST Special Committee meeting. Thus, the fare slab for non-AC (regular) buses will be Rs 5, 10, 15 and Rs 20, while it will be Rs 6, 13, 19 and Rs 25 for air-conditioned buses, stated an official.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to sanction this proposal. The BEST official added, “Now the proposal will be sent to BMC and the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority (MMRTA) for final approval. The date of implementation of these reduced fares will be notified later.”

BEST, with a fleet of 3,337 buses, including 120 double- deckers, has so far failed to recover even its cost of operation and its ridership over the years has fallen from 45 lakh a day to 27 lakh. It operates 483 routes in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai and its daily loss is estimated at around Rs 2 crore.

Senior BEST Committee member Ravi Raja also hailed the decision but reminded the administration that it is going to make an annual loss of Rs 125 crore due to fare reduction.

After the decision, Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray visited the BEST headquarters in south Mumbai and said the move was not taken because the Maharashtra legislature is in session. “If this was the case, then we would have taken this decision before Lok Sabha elections. This decision has been taken for last mile connectivity and a comfortable journey,” Thackeray claimed.

(With PTI inputs)