Mumbai: Air-conditioned BEST buses—including the much-hyped King Longs—are running into losses to the tune of Rs 40 crore yearly. The undertaking, however, has not proposed any hike in the fare of AC buses.
This was revealed on Friday during a BEST committee meeting. The meeting was called to discuss a proposal to allot 12 King Longs to Cambatta Aviation, which would use BEST’s AC buses for ground handling services of Jet Airways.
According to the proposal, which was cleared in the meeting, BEST management would lease the buses to Cambatta for a monthly rental of Rs 1.84 lakh each. The management has refused to provide BEST drivers and said that the firm handle operational costs and deploy private drivers.
Congress corporator and committee member Ravi Raja raised objections to the proposal. “BEST is not a travel agency. Why should it provide buses to the aviation company? We can train our drivers and seek police permission so that they can be allowed to ply buses at airport,” said Raja.
BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said that there was nothing wrong in Cambatta recruiting its own drivers. “Cambatta has agreed to bear costs of minor maintenance and repair. The contract also states that buses will not ply more than 75 kms daily,” said Gupta. “In future, we may consider deploying our drivers,’’ he said.
Committee member Nitin Salagare also objected to the proposal, saying the move would not fetch significant revenue.
Sena’s committee member Sunil Ganacharya presented a revenue chart for AC buses. “Every AC bus fetches an average revenue of Rs 5,246 daily. The cost of running the service, however, goes up to Rs 9,420 per bus,” he said. This means a loss of Rs 4,174 per bus daily or nearly Rs 40 crore annually (BEST has 270 AC buses).
Source:Somit Sen I TNN