Feasibility Analysis: BEST Plans to Get 10000 Buses by 2025

As BEST Plans to Get 10000 Buses by 2025, let’s analyze the ground reality which reveals the hurdles that mar this optimistic plan.

BEST Plans to Get 10000 Buses by 2025
Source: Sameer Mohite

In a groundbreaking move, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has announced an elaborate blueprint for the procurement of 10,662 buses by 2025.

The BEST Undertaking is also exploring setting up multi-story parking lots inside its depots to accommodate these buses. The Dindoshi, Bandra, and Deonar depots have been identified for this potential development, with an ongoing feasibility study.

This ambitious plan, disclosed in the recent budget for 2024-25, outlines a strategic approach to enhance the city’s public transportation system.

Let’s delve into the details of this transformative initiative and assess its feasibility.

The Vision: 10,662 Buses in Mumbai’s Fleet

The BEST Undertaking envisions a fleet comprising 3,337 owned buses and 7,285 on wet lease by March 2025.

However, skeptics argue that achieving the targeted 8,222 buses (combining owned and wet lease) by March 2024 might be overly optimistic.

Currently grappling with delays from manufacturers, the undertaking faces challenges in meeting the deadlines set in its comprehensive plan.

Notwithstanding this ground reality, BEST authorities are discussing the acquisition of 900 AC electric double decker buses, 2,100 single-decker AC electric buses, and 250 CNG single-decker buses in the coming months.

Procurement Challenges and Manufacturer Woes

Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the plan to procure 10000 buses, the ground reality is very different. BEST’s current fleet size is 2,950 buses and in the current scenario, it is struggling to secure timely deliveries from its manufacturers.

Here are a few examples of untimely delivery that BEST is facing currently:

  • Olectra’s delivery of 2,100 AC single-decker electric buses is experiencing delays. To date, only 20 buses have been delivered. The initial schedule aimed for Olectra to deliver 50% of the buses by February and the remaining 50% by May.
  • On July 2023, BEST had to serve a ‘Blacklisting” notice to Causis E-Mobility for not supplying 700 electric buses that it had secured a contract for.
  • Switch Mobility has delivered only about fifty AC electric double decker buses out of 200.

These setbacks prompt concerns about the feasibility of acquiring even the 900 AC electric double decker buses, 2,100 single-decker AC electric buses, and 250 CNG single-decker buses that BEST is planning for.

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Citizen Concerns and Financial Transparency

Critics, such as activist AV Shenoy from the Mumbai Mobility Forum, emphasize the need for BEST to transparently communicate its plans, especially considering the financial challenges the organization faces.

Shenoy insists that citizens should be informed about how the undertaking plans to bring in numerous buses despite operating at a deficit of ₹2,514 crore in 2024-25.

Optimistic Budget Estimates and Fleet Optimization

BEST Plans to Get 10000 Buses by 2025
Source: Sameer Mohite

The budget estimate for 2024-25 projects optimism, aiming to add 2,239 AC electric buses to the owned fleet and an additional 3,300 on wet lease by March next year.

Simultaneously, the undertaking plans to phase out 541 buses that have completed their lifespan. As of April 2023, the BEST fleet stood at 3,221 buses, which has now decreased to 2,950 buses.

Moving Forward: A Balancing Act

As BEST Plans to Get 10000 Buses by 2025 to revolutionize Mumbai’s commute, the challenges are evident.

Manufacturer delays, financial constraints, and citizen concerns necessitate a delicate balancing act for the undertaking.

The success of this ambitious plan hinges on effective collaboration between the authorities, manufacturers, and the public.

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