In a bid to make transport services passenger friendly, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking on Friday installed the smart card system, the PCO system, CCTVs and drop boxes by Hutchison Essar in its buses.
These systems were inaugurated by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who travelled in one of these buses from Mantralaya to NCPA and back. On board, he also gave a piece of advice to the undertaking that they should work towards introducing these facilities even on the Mumbai-Pune stretch (the route which is popular among Mumbaikars).
“There is constant terror threat, making BEST one of the most vulnerable spots. To ensure safe and comfortable journey for over 45 lakh commuters, we have installed CCTVs to monitor the activities of each and every passenger,” said Uttam Khobragade, general manager of BEST.
Smart card has been installed in 200 buses, and will be installed in the remaining 3,391 within the next three months. The buses will also be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) for automatic identification of their location, and also for the purpose of fare calculation. This card can be later used by commuters who travel by the railways too.
Talking about the functioning of the smart card, Khobragade said that the commuter has to present the card to the validator, which will calculate the actual fare, and then automatically debit the amount from the card. However, if passengers fail to present the card at the time of exit the card will be debited for the full journey. Forty entries can be registered at the validating machine in one minute.
Khobragade insisted that the transport division of the undertaking has been constantly suffering losses since a long time.
“We are planning to make maximum utilisation of all our assets thereby reducing the operational losses. I want to present a profitable balance sheet by March 2008,” Khobragade said. He said that one of the profitable ventures - having CNG stations within the depots - has been worked out. “We are introducing the third CNG station in our Santa Cruz bus depot besides the ones that exist at Pratiksha Nagar depot and Anik depot,” he added.
Prakash Kamat, managing director of Kaizen Automation, which has devised the smart card system for the BEST said that the multipurpose smart card has an advantage over any other credit and debit card.