Sunday, July 25, 2010

King wrong: Big headache for BEST as AC buses go bust

The BEST’s air-conditioned Kinglong buses, which had rolled into Mumbai surrounded by equal measures of celebration and controversy three years ago, have hit a rather large speedbump. With passengers complaining incessantly about constant breakdowns, and technical snags on the Chinese-made buses becoming increasingly routine, authorities have decided to stall the procurement of 38 new buses.

“I have taken a decision that no more Kinglong buses will be inducted in our fleet until maintenance issues on all the current fleet is resolved,” BEST General Manager Om Prakash Gupta told Mumbai Mirror. “Of the 50 additional buses that were to be procured, 12 have already been approved but rest all have been put on hold.”


The most common complaints with these buses are that they frequently break down, that they slow down on flyovers, that AC water drips on passengers, and that the TV programmes are outdated and repetitive.

“In the last two weeks, thrice there were problems with the bus I took,” said Sanjay Bhat, who works in a private firm at Worli and takes the Mira Road-Worli A-70 Express from Dahisar. “On two of those occasions, we had to vacate the bus in the middle of the road during heavy rains. The other time, there was smoke all around, which was really scary.”

Bhat added that he had lodged several complaints on the toll free number and bus depots.

Sources in BEST said that at least 30 of the 270-strong Kinglong fleet were out of commission waiting for repairs and that 10 of them were not on the roads as their glass had been broken. “These buses have been a concern, especially the older ones which did not have automatic transmission. On an average, one bus develops a snag every two days. Maintenance is a big issue,” said a senior official from BEST.

Ravi Raja, Congress councillor and BEST committee member said the administration would take it up as a priority. “If people are complaining it means there is some issue. The administration should ensure that passengers who are paying higher amounts and using these services do not suffer.”
Ref: Times of India
Virat A Singh

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