New King Long Buses Offer AC Comfort But Traffic Jams Play Spoiler. BEST Says Dedicated Bus Lanes Will Improve Things
The King Long buses, say officials, are ideal for people who travel by car but are looking forward to switching to a mass transport system to save on fuel and do their bit for the environment. The buses run on green fuel (compressed natural gas the fuel efficiency is about 2.8 kilometres per litre of fuel consumed — but do not compromise on comfort.
The made-in-China tag, ubiquitous at home, now threatens to take over Mumbai’s streets as well.
Twenty air-conditioned King Long buses have already hit Mumbai’s streets and, unless Thursday’s blaze on one of the buses plays a spoiler in the contract, 40 more are in line to join the fleet.
The buses have already given Mumbaikars a taste of how comfortable a world-class intra-city mass road transport system can be. Officials say the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System will take away the only drawback — Mumbai’s unending traffic jams — of travelling by these buses right now; the system envisages dedicated lanes for BEST buses on both Western and Eastern Express Highway.
The cushioned seats, with ample leg-room, can take 50 passengers and leave comfortable standing space for several more. The twin air-suspensions ensure that the potholes do not affect you and the air-conditioners allow you to wait in traffic without breaking into a sweat. “We are the pioneers when it comes to air-conditioned buses running on CNG,’’ a BEST official claimed. Each bus costs about Rs 50 lakh and is assembled from parts made in various countries. “The chassis, the air-conditioners and the engine components are imported from China, the engine transmission is German but the body is Indian,’’ the official said. “The bus is assembled in Chandigarh,’’ he added.
“The King Long service now runs on two routes — one between Dahisar and Backbay and the other between Thane and Backbay — and will introduce more routes or additional buses if there is a need,’’ BEST general manager Uttam Khobragade said. “We started another route between Bandra and Kurla but did not get a response. We will have more buses starting from Thane as the demand is greater there,’’ he added.
Several commuters have already taken to the new buses and then hops into the world of cool comfort. People who works in Nariman point area and does not mind the two-hour journey. Has got themselves a monthly pass of Rs 750, which enables them to travel not only on the King Long buses any number of times they wants to but also on the regular BEST buses.
BRTS IN MUMBAI
The Bus Rapid Transit System will have dedicated lanes for BEST buses on the two express highways
ROUTE 1: DAHISAR TO BACKBAY
Monday to Saturday
7.30 am, 7.50 am, 8.10 am, 8.30 am, 8.50 am, 9.10 am, 9.30 am (from Dahisar to Backbay) 3.35 pm, 3.55 pm, 4.15 pm, 4.35 pm, 4.50 pm, 5.15 pm, 5.35 pm (from Backbay)
STOPS | Backbay Depot | World Trade Centre | Mantralaya | Churchgate | Opera House | Cumballa Hill Post Office | Haji Ali | Poonam Chamber | Worli Naka | Prabhadevi | Shivaji Park | Kalanagar | Vakola Police Station | Airport | Gundavli | Virvani | Pushpa Park | Mahindra |National Park | Dahisar Check Naka | Dahisar Bus Station
ROUTE 2: THANE TO BACKBAY
Monday to Saturday
7.30 am, 8 am, 8.30 am, 9 am, 9.30 am, 10 am, 10.30 am (from Thane to Backbay) 4.10 pm, 4.40 pm, 5.10 pm, 5.40 pm, 6.10 pm, 6.40 pm, 7.10 pm (from Backbay to Thane)
STOPS | Backbay Depot | World Trade Centre | CST | A H Ansari Chowk | Khodadad Circle | Maheshwari Udyan | Sion Hospital | Everard Nagar | Mithagar (Mulund) | Parel T T | RTO Office (Ghatkopar) | Marathon Chowk | Teen Hath Naka
COOL COMFORT: Commuters get a seaside view as one of the new buses travels along Marine Drive (above); the swish exterior (left) stands out in Mumbai’s traffic and gets the bus its share of appreciative glances