Mumbai gets its second electric double decker bus, commuters complaint of issues

The second electric double decker bus has joined Mumbai's BEST fleet within a month after the first one was flagged off in February.
Mumbai's second electric double decker bus, operated by BEST, began ferrying passengers from March 22. (PTI)
Mumbai's second electric double decker bus, operated by BEST, began ferrying passengers from March 22.

Within a month of introducing the first air-conditioned electric double decker bus (e-bus), the civic-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has started plying second such vehicle in the city, but the passengers, enthusiasts and staffers said they were left disappointed as the issues they had flagged in the first bus remained unaddressed in the latest service. The first electric double decker bus was introduced in the city on February 21. The second such bus, registered at the Vashi Regional Transport Office (RTO) on March 17, is being operated on route no 138 between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Backbay Depot in south Mumbai, besides being used for heritage tours, a BEST spokesperson said.

A few minor internal changes have been done in this bus based on the passengers feedback given after the bus first was introduced, he said. The second electric double decker bus has been hired on wet lease from a private operator. The BEST staffers, passengers and bus enthusiasts said that they had pointed out some flaws in the first double decker e-bus and they were expecting those to be rectified in the next bus. But several of their concerns related to safety and comfort remained unaddressed in the second double decker e-bus as well, they said.

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Currently, the BEST has only 50 diesel-run double decker buses in its fleet and the new electric double decker buses are going to replace the conventional ones in a phased manner. The transport undertaking had ordered 900 double decker buses from two companies, but the BEST has now cancelled the contract of one of the firms that was supposed to provide 700 buses.

A BEST driver said that in the second double decker bus, the bell that the conductor uses to alert the drivers to stop or move the bus, is fitted to the lower deck roof just near the front door. Therefore the head of tall passengers gets banged on it, increasing the possibility of injury to them. "In the first e-bus, the bell was just above the seats in the first row near the front door. Hence, the heads of many passengers used to get banged against it while trying to stand up before disembarking, which is why shifting of the bell's position was suggested. But in the new bus, it has been shifted to another problematic location," the driver said.

Another BEST driver said that they had also suggested the installation of a rod on the left side of the driver's seat as sometimes passengers fall on the dashboard of the bus if brakes are applied suddenly. However, their concern about it has been ignored in the second bus.

The drivers also complained about the position of the rear-view mirror in the double decker e-bus. According to them, the rear-view mirror on the driver's side is fitted near the door instead of the front side of the windshield, making it tough for them to check vehicles coming from the right side."The rear-view mirror is installed in the wrong position. In order to see the mirror, we have to turn the neck, which leads to momentary loss of attention. It could prove dangerous," said another driver.

According to BEST drivers, they had suggested installation of additional CCTV camera at the rear door of the bus as they are unable to see if the passengers have boarded the bus or not due the partition next to it. But the suggestion about it was also not considered in the second e-bus. Commuters using the electric double decker bus said the BEST has made some improvement in the front staircase in the second bus.

In the first bus, there was a possibility of a tall passenger's head getting hurt due to the low height of the staircase passage and smaller cushion. The commuters, however, complained that the BEST has not done any improvement in the grab railings fitted in the front and rear staircase of the new bus. "The grab railings are not continuous and therefore there is a chance that passengers might lose balance on the staircase, if the driver suddenly applies brakes," said Suhas Kadam, a commuter.

A bus enthusiast pointed out that in the second bus also the BEST has not kept sufficient space between the last step of the staircase and the front row of seats as, which was the case in the first e-bus as well. "Sadly, BEST undertaking has neither made any changes to increase the stepping space next to the front side staircase nor it removed the grab rail that was proving an obstacle in smooth passenger movement," Rohit Dhende, a bus enthusiast said. He said that in the new double decker e-bus also the BEST has kept seats slightly front-sloping, which passengers find uncomfortable.

First Published Date: 23 Mar 2023, 07:45 AM IST

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