Mumbai News

Mumbai: BEST, NMMT to carry officegoers from Monday – Times of India

MUMBAI: BEST, the city’s lifeline on the roads, announced resumption of services for officegoers from Monday after a gap of more than two months, during which time it ferried only essential staffers. Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) administration, too, has chalked out a plan to restart bus services for regular passengers from Monday. 200 of its 450 buses will ply initially.
From Monday, 10% of employees across sectors are to resume work. In the absence of local trains, buses will help ensure their attendance, say employers. H R Shetty, managing director of a manufacturing firm with a corporate office in Andheri, said, “I have several staffers who are clueless about how to travel from Monday when 10% of office staff are required to be present. Buses will be a great relief for them.”

Only one passenger for every two seats and up to five standees will be allowed on every bus.
BEST senior officer Victor Nagaonkar said, “On a pilot basis, on Friday, we allowed a few shopowners and their staffers to travel in our buses. From Monday, we will go full-fledged and allow all office-goers to board after they show us ID cards.” He said for those who are self-employed or do not have ID cards or workmen, such as plumbers and electricians, conductors have been asked to use their discretion in allowing them entry. Students and senior citizens aged above 65 will not be allowed.
BEST bus routes to skip big containment zones
In a move that could help boost attendance in workplaces, BEST has decided to allow office-goers to board its buses from Monday.
“According to the government notification, 10% office staff can work from Monday. How will those who do not have private vehicles travel to work? Local trains are unavailable for the general public. In such a scenario, citizens will depend on our buses to reach office and back,” said BEST general manager Surendrakumar Bagde. “We have sensitized our staff at all 27 depots and all conductors have been asked to ensure social distancing in our buses.”
Mankhurd’s Sandeep Surve said he has been asked to report to work at a travel firm in Dadar from Monday. “Had there been local trains, I would have taken the Harbour line to work. Buses are affordable and reliable.”
BEST will create routes in such a way that they do not pass through containment zones, said BEST additional general manager Rajendra Madne. He added buses will be available almost across the city, but will avoid big containment zones such as Dharavi.
BEST will also increase its fleet gradually. On Friday, it increased the fleet to 2,000 buses from an average of 1,400 in May. The total fleet size of the undertaking is 3,500.
Meanwhile, NMMT general manager Shirish Aradwad said, “In a 45-seater NMMT bus, only 23 passengers will be allowed to travel with only one passenger occupying two seats on one side, and there will be no standing passengers, as per the new state government guidelines. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, we used to ply 400 buses across Navi Mumbai till Panvel, Uran Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Baldapur and we also plied AC Volvo buses till Mumbai. But as of now we are plying only 100 buses for essential services, including the 20 buses converted into ambulance service.” For additional 100 NMMT buses, around 300 drivers and an equal number of conductors will be deployed.
Hence, apart from 320 trips by 100 buses already plying for essential services, 350 more trips are expected.
Uber, Ola back for essentials
Aggregator cabs resumed operations on Friday, albeit only for essential services.
An Ola source said, “You can travel for medical emergencies. A cab can also be booked by those engaged in essential duties. You can book both in-city and out-station trips (intra-state only) for essential travel needs.” Shiva Shailendran, general manager, Uber, said, “Riders will be able to access Uber Go, Premier and Uber Auto for essential travel only and, as mandated by the government, will be required to carry suitable documentation as proof of purpose.”