BEST to add 1600 buses

After a decade of stagnation, the BEST is all set to increase its fleet size to 5,000 from the current 3,400. Announcing the budget estimates for the year 2009-10 , BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade pointed out that the size of BEST’s fleet has remained constant for last 10 years. “This undermines our constant efforts to provide greater and better facilities to the commuters,” he said. Khobragade added that results of the 2007-2008 budget and the revised budget for 2008-09 prove that the undertaking has been successful in attracting more passengers. He pointed out that BEST has managed this feat despite cutting fares for 60% of the passengers last year. The move to cut fares had invited criticism from all quarters, including trade unions.Officials said that if the reforms continue to be implemented in the same manner, next few years will see the bus division of BEST becoming self-sustainable. “This is quite a turn around and we have managed to wipe off losses. We will be closing with a nominal cash loss of Rs 24 crore, compared with the huge cash loss of Rs447.68 crore in 2007-2008,” said Khobragade.Khobragade said he was optimistic that the BEST will cross a turnover of Rs4,000 crore next year. The transformation is also visible in BEST’s electric supply division, which has managed to close the year with profits of Rs165.78 crore as against loss of Rs139.89 crore in the previous year. “We have managed to post profits despite having implemented higher tariff rate as fixed by the MERC,” Khobragade said.

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