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As BEST Struggles with Challenges, App-Based Buses Bridge the Gap

As per its latest plan, the transport body will expand its fleet to 3,337 buses by March 2025, with an additional 7,285 buses being leased.

As BEST Struggles with Challenges, App-Based Buses Bridge the Gap
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The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has been facing many challenges for several years now. It has accumulated losses of INR 6,000 crore, faced delays in the supply of new bus orders, and seen many threats of protest from the employees of wet lease bus operators. 

As per its latest plan, the transport body will expand its fleet to 3,337 buses by March 2025, with an additional 7,285 buses being leased. BEST has placed orders with multiple bus manufacturers for at least 2,500 buses, adding to its current fleet of 3,050 buses. It has placed orders for another 2,400 AC buses. Recently, it also scrapped an order of 700 double decker electronic buses.

Amid this, travellers have raised concerns about the longer wait times, which sometimes average at 30 minutes. During rush hour, BEST buses are packed and extremely crowded. The condition of wet-leasing buses is also a cause for concern.

As per reports, at least 10 million Mumbaikars travel by suburban local trains and BEST buses everyday. An additional 2.5 million people travel by taxis, autorickshaws, and aggregator cabs. In this scenario, app-based air-conditioned buses have made their place in the commuting world.

Bus aggregators like CityFlo and Chalo offer assured seats in AC buses with fixed start and end points. Compared to BEST's model of regular stops, these buses operate point-to-point services. 

As per its website, Cityflo operates along 30 routes in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). It serves office hubs from 40 different living areas with its 300-bus fleet. It provides services from housing areas like Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, Borivali, and Mira Bhayandar in Western Lines to office areas like BKC and Andheri. A ride with Cityflo costs about INR 180 on average. Passengers can change the travel time and even receive a refund in the event of a no-show. 

Chalo is another company that has 130 AC buses in its fleet. It gained attention for starting a bus service from Mumbai Airport. It even has a deal with BEST to add up to 3,000 buses over time and operate under stage carriage regulations. However, Chalo recently halted its operations at the Mumbai airport.

Despite this, app-based bus aggregators face challenges such as the absence of appropriate parking spots, a one-time road tax, and the need for infrastructure for electric cars.

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