The last of Mumbai’s iconic double-decker buses will be phased out in the city by the end of the calendar year, according to a recent report. The last 40 of 45 buses will be decommissioned by this year-end, while the remaining five buses will be decommissioned before April 2024. The move marks a new era for BEST, which moves to a more sustainable option of transportation, particularly electric buses.
The move was confirmed by Lokesh Chandra, general manager – BEST, who said, “The majority of the existing non-AC double-decker buses will be taken out of service for safety reasons.”
Also Read : A closer look at first electric double-decker bus of Mumbai: Switch EiV 22
First added to the fleet on December 8, 1937, the red double-decker BEST buses have been a staple part of Mumbai’s roads and a defining character of the city. The move to decommission these buses is in line with government policy as the vehicles have reached their legal life of 15 years. These buses will now be scrapped keeping in mind the new safety standards and latest emission norms, which these buses do not comply with.
The double-decker buses ply between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Churchgate, CSMT-World Trade Centre (Cuffe Parade) and Santacruz East railway station. It also plied between Andheri East-Kurla railway station until a couple of years ago. There were at least 120 double-deckers on the road until five years ago, which were gradually phased out.
Nevertheless, the city won’t be losing its icon just yet. BEST plans to replace the non-AC double-decker buses with new-age air-conditioned electric alternatives. The first of such buses was inducted into the fleet recently. The Switch Mobility AC double-decker buses offer a new and modern design with better seating and safety.
The Switch electric double-decker has a lightweight aluminium body construction and can seat up to 65 passengers, more than the current non-AC buses. The e-bus gets wide front and rear doors, two staircases and an emergency door complying with the latest safety standards. Switch claims the buses occupy less road, terminal and depot floor space per seated passenger.
However, BEST says that deliveries have been slow from the company. A recent report quotes a senior BEST official saying, “We were supposed to get 10 such buses between March and April, which hasn’t happened yet. Unless we don’t actually see them delivered, it will be difficult to say when more will be added to our fleet.”
About 50 new electric double-decker buses will join the BEST fleet over the next couple of years. The report suggests that these buses have seen little changes including freeing the space blocking the emergency exit in the lower deck, extra seats installed in the upper deck and protective cushioning and handles have been added in the stairway.
First Published Date: 03 May 2023, 17:39 PM IST