Do you associate Mumbai with red, flashy double–decker buses? Those might soon be a thing of the past.
BEST has announced plans to scrap 60% of its double–decker fleet and replace them with single-decker buses, reducing the stock to less than 50. Introduced in 1937, the buses took inspiration from London’s fleet and were initially drawn by horses. They were motorised by 1947 and the fleet expanded to over 240. Though double–deckers can carry more passengers, BEST says they’re costly to operate and are less environment-friendly.
Manoj Varade, the deputy public relations officer of BEST, told Citizen Matters,
“The double-decker buses require wider and less congested roads thus restricting the number of routes on which they can be pressed into service. Of late, there has been a sharp rise in vehicular traffic, besides encroachment of roads by hawkers, compounded by haphazard parking and regular digging works for various utilities. These cramp the passage of double decker buses, affecting bus frequency and schedules. Since we are a public utility service, we decided to introduce more medium and mini size buses that suit the narrow roads.”