Mumbai: There is good news for Mumbaikars as Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) in its budget presented on Tuesday, announced that there will be no hike in bus fares till 2021. However, Mumbai’s iconic transport service is in serious revenue trouble as the budget for 2020-21 shows has an estimated deficit of Rs 2,249.74 crore, reported The Times of India.
The deficit was Rs 380.37 crore in 2018-19, and in 2019-20, it was estimated at Rs 833.85 crore. The budget estimates show the total earnings for the undertaking will be Rs 5,558.91 crore and expenditure will be Rs 7,808.65 crore.
The BEST has been grappling with financial crisis for a while and has failed to earn any profit even in ten routes in the city during the past five years.
As to why is BEST facing financial crisis, general manager Surendrakumar Bagde said that there are a number of factors including the addition of new buses, wage revision of employees, establishment costs , arrears and gratuity costs etc. Bagde also said that the BEST is planning to induct 3,000 AC buses, which will account for Rs 1,000 crore losses. In addition, BEST was also giving a Diwali bonus of Rs 9,100 to all staff .
At a time when so much of money is being spent on improving the service, the fares of bus rides have not increased. In fact, in July 2019, BEST slashed fares of its regular as well AC buses to the delight of commuters. BEST officials believed that the day to day passenger traffic may increase by 5 lakh in a span of one month with the implementation of the fare cut.
“Reduction of bus fares also led to losses for the transport undertaking but we are willing to bear this, as it will ensure citizens get affordable rides in good, brand new buses, on wet lease”, Bagde said.
Sources said BEST expects Rs 1,200 crore from BMC in a year, apart from increasing revenue from ads and other sources to curtail sources.