Friday, October 8, 2010

BEST passengers see red over smartcard renewal

With reference to Mumbai mirror story below. I would like to add that why Government/ civic and other servants work for the betterment of the people.


Is BEST manager living in fantasy land of his own doesn’t he know that majority of Mumbaikars who work in private companies and travel by these bus their offices start by 9.30 a.m and they cannot go late like government employees.

BEST passengers see red over smartcard renewal

Mumbai: Several passengers who have monthly/quarterly passes (smartcards) are finding it difficult to get their cards renewed at the BEST depots because of ‘inconvenient’ timings.

Said Sion resident R Sridhar who is a frequent passenger, “After the BEST introduced paper passes recently, it started opening counters at the 25 bus depots from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Previously, when bus passes were being renewed by Kaizen company, the private counters were open from 8 am to 8 pm at the BEST chowkies and also at other locations near our residence. But this has now been discontinued.’’

So, office-goers find it difficult to get their passes renewed as there are long queues in the morning and the counter shuts by 4.30 pm. Most return home only by 6.30-7 pm.

“I went to the depot and returned twice as there was a long queue. You cannot waste an entire day on making a bus pass,’’ said one Laxman Moorthy.

Many Thane passengers have to pay toll charges (Rs 30 one way) to come to the Mulund depot for renewal of passes. “I had to make three trips to renew my pass for the AC Kinglong bus—from Thane to south Mumbai,’’ said a passenger who takes the bus from Teen Haath Naka.

A senior BEST official said that the Kaizen contract was cancelled and that is why the BEST staffers themselves were renewing passes for passengers. “As it is our own staff, we have fixed a timing for them and cannot change it unless there are instructions from our boss (general manager),’’ he said. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta was unavailable for comment.

“BEST can solve the problem by giving overtime allowance to its staff and keeping the counters open till 8 pm. It will be a great relief for passengers,’’ Sridhar added.

Volvos BEST option to phase out King Longs?

Mumbai:If the Shiv Sena-controlled BEST committee has its way, King Long buses may be sidelined and will be replaced with AC Volvo buses on longdistance routes. But BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta rubbished the plan to either ground these buses or replace them.

Fifty new Volvos were expected to join the BEST fleet this month and another 200 might in a few months, said an official of the BEST committee. Its chairperson Sanjay Potnis told TOI that they planned to replace the King Longs with Volvos as they were more “efficient with better speed as well as safety features and break down less frequently”. “I am not satisfied with the performance of our King Longs that ply on the north-south corridors. Unable to bear the load on flyovers, they cannot maintain good speed,” Potnis said. He, however, added that BEST owned 270 King Longs and they could not be discarded. “We may ply them on cross-corridors and other routes, while Volvos can operate on the north-south fast-track routes,” he said. The cross-corridors are the east-west links like Sion-Mahim and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Road.

A BEST committee member from the Congress, however, is not keen on the “phasingout” plan of King Longs. “The transport body has already spent a lot on King Longs. I don’t think there is any problem with these luxury buses that are popular on the fasttrack routes.” he claimed. But GM Gupta said new Volvos would be deployed on fasttrack corridors soon. “We are also taking in Mercedes Benz buses for long-distance routes,” he added.

LUXURY FLEET

KING LONGS

270 buses

AC VOLVOS

50 buses ( 200 more to be bought soon)

MERCEDES BENZ

1 bus (on 30 -day trial basis, more to be procured)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BEST has stopped renewing smartcards’

ON THE CARDS


Smartcards are currently being renewed in the following categories: Students up to Class X will have to pay Rs 90 for a month. Those in Class XI-XII will pay Rs 190 for monthly and Rs 570 for three-months Passes are being renewed for city (Rs 350 monthly charge and Rs 900 quarterly), suburbs (Rs 450 monthly and Rs 1,100 quarterly), Magic Card Holders (Rs 550 monthly and Rs 1,400 quarterly)

 BEST commuters having ‘short-distance’ monthly and quarterly passes (smart cards) have been left in limbo as the transport body has not been renewing passes for the past two weeks.

Although the BEST recently began renewing smart cards for long-distance routes in non-AC and AC buses, those who travel daily on the feeder routes—from residential colonies to local railway stations—are the worst hit.

“It was economical to travel on a monthly pass from my residence on Film City Road to Goregaon station. But the BEST has stopped renewing our passes. We are now forced to buy tickets, which is proving to be expensive,’’ said Sudhakar Redkar, a regular passenger. Another commuter, Murali Krishnan, rues, “It seems they want to scrap the short-distance passes so we have no option but to purchase tickets at inflated rates,’’ he stated.

BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta clarified that the move to stop renewing short-distance passes was “temporary.’’ “We have also stopped issuing new smart cards. But we plan to restart these services in a month,’’ he said.

Commuters are upset with the BEST’s decision to stop issuing new cards. MNS activist Chetan Pednekar said he has received complaints from around 50 passengers from the Parel area who wanted to buy new smartcards. “MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar met Gupta on Tuesday and has requested him to restart the service at the earliest,’’ he stated.

Sources said that the BEST was reportedly planning to blacklist Kaizen company, which had earlier issued these smart cards. It will now appoint a new company to provide a three-in-one machine, which will help conductors issue tickets, scan cards and renew cards on board. MNS activists have demanded that if the Kaizen contract is cancelled, the 350 daily wage workers who will be rendered jobless should be absorbed elsewhere.

Monday, August 9, 2010

AC buses to end taxi, auto torture at airport?

BEST authorities have a plan to end the torture faced by passengers trying to board a taxi or an autorickshaw outside the Mumbai airport. They have proposed an airport-specific air-conditioned bus service connecting various parts of the city.


BEST General Manager Om Prakash Gupta said all possible options are being looked into to ease passengers’ woes outside the airport. The BEST top brass has already formally met their Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) counterparts to take the proposal forward. Gupta said, “There are two major issues involved in the project - parking space for the buses and enough number of passengers to sustain the service.”

To counter the second possibility - not getting enough passengers from the airport - BEST is trying to rope in all the stake holders, including various hotel associations that can promote BEST as an efficient and cheap mode of transport. “We are working on various surveys to understand traffic route mapping, number of passengers required and bus frequency for the project,” Gupta said. He said that BEST would like to start off with the Airport-Navi Mumbai route and Airport-Colaba route, which can be sustained.

Senior BEST officials said that the aim is to have a bus frequency of 30 minutes and a booking counter at the airport terminal.

A MIAL official confirmed the development saying, “We are in discussions with BEST on initiating dedicated bus services from airport to various parts of the city. Once the modalities are chalked out, we will provide them parking space and other facilities.”

However, Dinette Cherub, a taxi driver who regularly plies from the airport, said, “BEST should first aim to run proper services in the city and then think about airport. Everyone knows their lack of punctuality and nobody will even think of travelling in a BEST bus from the airport.”

Soon, BEST will start fast track bus services to Vashi

Mumbai: The BEST now plans to connect the city with Navi Mumbai by introducing fast track bus services to Vashi.

“The buses will run on a fast track corridor between Colaba and Sion, and between Sion and Vashi,’’ BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta told TOI on Tuesday. “While the Colaba-Sion corridor was launched on June 16, we will soon start the second corridor (to Vashi) on which buses will ply at a frequency just five minutes,’’ he stated.

Gupta assured that travelling from south Mumbai to Vashi will be comfortable, convenient and fast. For example, you can board a bus from south Mumbai to Sion, alight at the depot and get a connecting bus to Vashi within a minute. The fares will be as per Express rates, which is a minimum of Rs 4 and a maximum of Rs 17 on a particular corridor. Daily passes can be bought for Rs 40 while the monthly passes are priced at Rs 750, he stated. “If you wish to skip a crowded suburban train, then the best alternative would be to catch one of our fast track buses,’’ he said.

The purpose of introducing these buses was to provide a cheaper and faster public transport in comparison to the exorbitant auto and taxi fares. The fast track corridors already launched are the ones connecting Mantralaya to Mahim, Mahim to Mira Road, Colaba to Sion and Sion to Thane (Cadbury junction).

According to Gupta, the fast track service was a pre-cursor to Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) which the state government wants to introduce in the near future. “As per BRTS, you will be able to catch a bus every 30 seconds,’’ Gupta said.

The MMRDA is already liaisoning with BEST in this connection and there are plans to create dedicated bus lanes on the Eastern and Western Express Highways.

ZOOMING ACROSS

Existing Fast Track Corridors :


C1 : Mantralaya to Mahim

C2:Colaba to Sion

C-42:Sion to Thane

C-71:Mahim to Mira Road

To be launched in 2nd phase:

Sion-Vashi stretch on V N Purav Marg & Y B Chavan Marg Swami Vivekananda Road (Mahim to Dahisar) Western Link Road (Mahim to Dahisar) LBS Marg (Sion to Thane) R A Kidwai Marg (Colaba to Sion) Corridors in 3rd phase: Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road Aarey Road Sion to Mahim

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Travel between Pune and Mumbai is all set to get more comfortable and financially viable.

Pune: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will introduce an air-conditioned model of its flagship Asiad bus in a few months. According to MSRTC officials, to start with, the 39-seater AC buses will run on the Pune-Mumbai route.

The MSRTC can pride itself on being the first state road transport corporation in the country to introduce airconditioned buses in the lowcost category. The order for the first lot of buses had been placed, the officials added.

The cost of reconstructing each Asiad bus is about Rs 23.5 lakh. MSRTC officials are confident that the new service will draw more passengers towards state transport. Divisional controller of MSRTC Pune division, Shivaji Sonawane, said, “We are awaiting confirmation from headquarters.’’

The Pune-Mumbai route is busiest for the MSRTC. Besides, Asiad buses leave for Dadar from Pune station every 15 minutes with pick-up points at Aundh, Hinjewadi, Pimpri and Chinchwad.

More seats for women, sr citizens on BEST buses

Mumbai: Here’s some good news for women and senior citizens travelling by BEST buses. The transport undertaking has increased reserved seats for women from the existing six seats to 12 seats per bus; senior citizens will now have not just two but four reserved seats. The new quotas will come into effect from August 1. The reservation for handicapped persons remains the same.

The reservation has been revised not just for the ordinary red buses, but also for the double-deckers and the airconditioned buses. In double-deckers, women will now have 10 reserved

seats—which means four additional seats—and “senior citizens & handicapped” will have three commonly reserved seats.

In the AC buses, women previously had only two reserved seats. This has now been increased to six, while senior citizens will get two seats which they will share with handicapped persons and two more seats reserved exclusively for them.

The reservation in midi buses was two for women, two for handicapped and one for senior citizen. It has now been increased to six for women, two for handicapped and three for senior citizens.

“There was a huge demand to reserve more seats for women and senior citizens. In fact, I was flooded with several letters and phone calls from Mumbaikars,’’ said BEST committee chairperson Sanjay Potnis.

Bowing to public demand, the BEST management decided to increase the reserved seats quota. BEST general manage Om Prakash Gupta said, “We respect all senior citizens and women who travel by our buses daily. We want to ensure that their travel is less cumbersome and that they dont have to go standing.”