Mumbai

Commuters over the moon following BEST fare cut

New deal: A passenger holds up a ticket with the reduced ₹5 fare on Tuesday.

New deal: A passenger holds up a ticket with the reduced ₹5 fare on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Reactions ranged from disbelief to euphoria and even fear of overcrowding as passengers behold change in their hands

Commuting in Mumbai was never so thrilling. On Tuesday, Mumbaikars were getting money back on bus tickets, on routes they had travelled on for years.

On many routes, disbelief gave way to euphoria when commuters realised the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking had slashed fares. “When I gave ₹10 to the conductor, I got ₹5 back. I asked him, ‘Are you new?’ thinking it’s his mistake,” Girish Jadhav, a daily commuter, said.

And then there was shock. Some commuters asked conductors whether it was a short-lived scheme that would only last a day. Sanghamitra Sonawane, who lives in Backbay Reclamation, said her ticket to Churchgate station had gone down to ₹5 from ₹15. “When I gave the conductor ₹15, he returned the ₹10 note I gave him. I had no idea that the fares had been slashed,” she said.

Bus conductors said passengers knew fares were going to be reduced, but most did not know that the new rates would be implemented from Tuesday and had to be assured it wasn’t just a short-term scheme. “All of them were happy putting ₹5 to ₹8 back into their pockets,” Laxman Chawan, a bus conductor, said.

Another conductor said, on condition of anonymity, they were facing a serious crunch in change as neither they nor the commuters were prepared for the lower fares. “Many commuters who would pay ₹8 would expect only ₹2 in return, but today we had to give them ₹5. By afternoon, we faced a serious shortage of change and had to ask commuters to pay the exact amount,” the conductor said.

Bharti Desai, who has been travelling between Churchgate and Haji Ali by bus for nearly four decades, said any reduction in fare is beneficial for consumers. “I am genuinely happy with the 50% cut in bus fares. However, the frequency of buses needs to improve,” she said.

Commuters said the move would attract more people to the red buses. There were also fears that this would lead to overcrowding.

“I prefer buses to local trains after a tiring day at work. However, after the 50% cut, more people will use buses and I’m scared that the situation will become exactly like local trains,” said Harshal Mhatre, an Andheri resident.

The passenger count for BEST, which ferries around 26 lakh people daily, has been dipping over the years.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:37:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/commuters-over-the-moon-following-best-fare-cut/article28336714.ece

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