Mumbai

‘Acute staff shortage is putting brakes on BEST’s bus services’

Ground to a halt: The BEST managed to complete only 17.93% of its scheduled daily trips in August.

Ground to a halt: The BEST managed to complete only 17.93% of its scheduled daily trips in August.   | Photo Credit: Shashi Ashiwal

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483 buses held back or delayed in August: internal analysis

Chronic delays of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking buses in the city are primarily due to a staff shortage, according to an internal analysis. During August, on an average, 483 buses were held back in the depot or started late daily.

According to the BEST’s analysis, its fleet utilisation decreased to 86.94% in August from 88.54% in July. A BEST official said holding back buses due to lack of staff was hitting their operations and they are trying to take measures such as running buses without conductors to improve operational efficiency and prevent losses. The official said on an average, just 34 buses were held back or delayed due to maintenance issues.

The BEST administration is experimenting with driver-only buses on 17 routes. The buses on all the routes have been hired on a wet-lease basis, where a contractor is appointed to provide the buses and drivers. However, the move has been challenged by the BEST Workers’ Union, which has also filed a case in the industrial court calling it a tactic to privatise the undertaking.

The BEST managed to complete only 17.93% of its scheduled daily trips in August. The only silver lining for the undertaking was that the figure was nearly 20% in July.

Recruitment freeze

Unions have hit out at the BEST administration, stating that the real issue was the acute staff shortage, which the undertaking is facing due to a freeze on recruitment over the years.

For instance, the number of conductors has dropped to 10,174 in August from 10,470 in April. The number of drivers, similarly, has fallen to 9,708 in August from 9,966 in April.

“The BEST administration’s plan to run ‘conductor-less’ buses is not going to resolve the core issue of staff shortage,” said Jagnarayan Gupta, leader of the BEST Kamgar Sanghatna.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:23:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/acute-staff-shortage-is-putting-brakes-on-bests-bus-services/article30308590.ece

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