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BEST Losses Mount To Rs 2110 Crore Despite Wet Leasing 50% Of Its Fleet

Cutting down on its huge losses was cited as the reason for introducing private buses into the fleet of Mumbai’s public transportation provider — the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking in 2019. Three years down the line, despite almost half of the fleet of Mumbai’s popular road transport system being operated by private wet leased buses today, the BEST continues to bleed reporting annual losses to the tune of Rs 2,110 crore as per its 2022-23 budget. “Currently, of the total fleet size of 3613 buses, about 1794 or 48.4 % are private buses. The losses continue to be stable despite support of Rs 4300 crore provided by its parent body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the past three years,” says Hussain Indorewalla, an architectural professor, who as co-convener of the Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST, an advocacy group is working to save BEST. Activists like him believe that there is a systematic campaign to run down the BEST to push commuters towards the Metro network. While the BEST has a daily footfall of 30 lakh passengers, the metro is struggling to attract commuters. The BEST has already stopped buying new buses and almost all of its ventures, including the project to get 900 AC double decker electric buses and have an entirely electric fleet by 2027 are based on the wet lease model.