The standstill of BEST bus services that serves over 4 million commuters has gravely affected the city. BEST employees were forced to extreme actions, defying even the Bombay High Court, in protest of the new computerised scheduling system, which was to be introduced as a cost-effective measure.
Mumbaikars who were at the receiving end of this conflict, shared their views on how one of Mumbai's oldest services could make an extra buck without inconveniencing everyday commuters.
Absolute digitisation of ticketing system
Even though electronic ticket machines have already been introduced, some citizens suggested replacing conductors with swipe machines.
Pranav Curumsey tweeted, “a 100% card swipe system could be introduced where one can swipe in and out from next to the driver.”
@mahafreed sack all the conductors, move to a 100% card system where you swipe in & out from next to driver.
— Pranav Curumsey (@Curumsey) April 2, 2014
Using technology could be cheaper and a good time saver. But while this could help BEST save on salaries, on the downside it will lead to substantial unemployment.
Making BEST more tourist friendly
Another suggestion was to make the BEST buses more tourist friendly much like those abroad.
Twitter user @PlumperNickel suggested, “Ads/Billboards, fare-hike and adding hop-on hop-off routes could help.”
@mahafreed ADs/ billboards on buses, increase fare, Add hop on hop off tourist routes
— Plumper Nickel (@plumpernickel) April 2, 2014
Introducing tourist day passes and special route tickets could prove to be profitable, especially considering how popular a tourist destination Mumbai is.
Another commuter also suggested that “common ticket” which was previously available be reintroduced. Such a ticket would allow commuters to travel in any bus for a period of 24 hours. This ticket would cost more than other tickets and could be a good source of revenue.
Vendors and vending machines
Other suggestions included, allowing licenced vendors on board or setting snack vending machines. Akhilesh Bagri a student commuter from Western Mumbai, said, “BEST commuters are usually office and school goers who are tired and hungry. An on-the-way snack would surely be great for them”.
Marketing and promotional freebies
Advertising and marketing on BEST buses could extend to allowing consumer interaction on board. Bagri points out, “Freebie distribution as advertising on buses and candy or snack vendors could be allowed to sell on board. BEST could surely get more advertisers as this has never been done earlier but exists on other city transport buses in the country”.
Routing and Re-routing
Citizens felt that BEST could extend its existing routes to include newer frontiers.
“Newer routes could be introduced and also the not-so-widely-used routes could be cancelled,” said Thomas Pious a regular office commuter from Central Mumbai who expressed difficulty in travelling as he has to take two different buses to reach office everyday.
These are, of course, only a few suggestions that could potentially help the failing public transport facility.
Do share your suggestions and opinions with us. You can tweet @dna or share your comments below.