Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
BEST uninterested in starting airport shuttle service

Considering the issue of traffic congestion and frequent strikes by auto rickshaw drivers, an airport bus shuttle service would be efficient from the usability point of view

Despite being the financial capital of India, Mumbai remains the only metro in India as well in the world to be without any dedicated airport bus shuttle service connecting important parts of the city to the airport. While transport activists are campaigning for the same, the BRIHANMUMBAI Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), having monopoly in Mumbai’s bus transport, seems to be uninterested in the project.

Moneylife had campaigned to start a dedicated public bus transport with adequate luggage space to the Mumbai Airport. Moneylife Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, drafted a memorandum with the help of experts on transportation, who unanimously supported the idea of starting an air-conditioned public bus service on a priority basis. The memorandum was sent to the BEST and to Prithviraj Chavan, chief minister of Maharashtra. Moneylife Foundation submits memorandum to BEST, CM appeals to start air shuttle for Mumbai Airport

BEST, in its reply to the memorandum, instead of calling discussion on starting such project, has have ruled of any possibility of starting it. It also failed to address the core issue raised by Moneylife. Instead, it gave details about the bus services which are run near the airport, both domestic and international.

BEST said that it has not been given any space for a bus terminus to start such a service. It also said that such services were being operated in the night “from the International Airport to Colaba and Borivali using low-floor buses which has space for luggage. However, the services were discontinued due to poor response from the passengers who required services right up to their door step; to their housing society compounds.”

Experts on transport, while drafting the memorandum, had pointed out that passengers continue to be stranded at the airport terminals in the absence of adequate public transport or a dedicated shuttle, as is being operated in other metros across the world. There is dearth of prepaid cabs. While the BEST bus stops are not easy to spot and they often don’t have information about the bus route and timings.

Mumbai is the only major city in the world and within India that does not have such a service even as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata successfully run such service. Experts say that starting such service is a ‘doable’ project. This is mainly because the project would be of small size and the target audience is clearly identified.

Considering the issue of traffic congestion and frequent strikes by auto rickshaw drivers, such a service would be efficient from the usability point of view.

User

COMMENTS

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

Considering the BEST babus 'country bumpkins' is too mild. They are a shade worse as their response indicates.
The airport shuttle service not only serving the airport-city-airport passengers but also airline staff and local users is such a massive success in other metros like Bengaluru.
For a city like Mumbai where both the auto and taxi cheat passengers, don't accept fares to 'short distances' like Mahim, Dadar buses are the only solution.
Earlier the Kala Ghoda- Santa Cruz Airport IAC buses were well patronised, as were other international airline coaches Sucheta's comments below make for great sense.
BEST piling up losses dogged by Unions, idle capacity and outsourcing is a classic case of the really BEST public transport going to the dogs.
It is best corporatized and run on commercial lines with entities like Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro in the PPP mode, free to take hard commercial decisions like the airport shuttle can turn it round and reduce the number of cars going to distant Santa Cruz and Sahar airports. Sooner this is implemented the better..

Adit Shirvalkar

5 years ago

I commend the Moneylife Foundation for taking up a very constructive cause. Indeed, a shuttle service can provide a lot of convenience to air travellers. The BEST's response however, does not come as a major surprise.

The reasons that I can think of for BEST's reluctance are summed up as follows:

1) The shuttle service can provide connectivity FROM Airport TO different parts of Mumbai, but BEST would be interested in carrying passengers TO Airport as well, to be able to run the shuttle service viably. Unfortunately, air travellers, as BEST experienced, would not be interested in going TO the Airport through BEST buses, unless they are picked up from their doorstep, or as near thereto as possible;

2) Andheri Ghatkopar Link Road (AGLR) is the only major road directly connecting Central Suburbs to the Airport's Sahar Terminal. Thanks to the ongoing Metro project, the traffic jams ensuing on AGLR and resulting escalation in fuel costs would make the shuttle service to Central Suburbs unviable for BEST;

3) Lack of a major Bus Station close to both the terminals is a major hindrance.

It would seem practicable for BEST to start a shuttle to/from Western Suburbs, however, especially after the Sahar Elevated Road is complete. BEST can also think about linking airport to the nearest Railway/Metro stations (after commencement of Metro Railway) by a shuttle service.

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

Its a good debate. We need not waste our efforts only on BEST.
Let us make AIRPORT AUTHORITY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONNECTIVITY.
Scond option is the Airlines.
Andheri is Going to be a Railway Hub. It can be real transportation hub by joining it with the Airports too. A singe point Destination for CONNECTIVITY. SKY IS THE LIMIT.
ALL WELL MEANING SOLUTION TOGETHER CAN GIVE US AN UNIQUE INNOVATIVE ANSWER TO OUR EXCERCISE.
AND CHECK-INS AT ANDHERI WILL MAKE GVK RESPONSIBLE Up to Airport from the hub.

Andheri Railway

REPLY

drsharmila rao

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

This sounds good.

Rajesh

5 years ago

BEST should learn a lot from BMTC which operates local buses & Airport shuttle in Bangalore. These shuttles are all low floor Volvos and service frequency is good. Charges are high, but compare with taxi charges plus look at the comfort and convenience. You are saved from Taxi rascals.

REPLY

param

In Reply to Rajesh 5 years ago

comparison with BLR & HYD is not fair. in these cases, the airports were shifted intentionally far far away & providing the a/c bus option (with auto as last-mile) was almost a pre-requisite to make this work. that is not the case in mumbai.
i have used both black/yellow (prepaid) & meru/mega (metered) taxis from mumbai domestic airports quite a few times, and i would certainly not agree to the term 'taxi rascals'.

DEEPAKSB

In Reply to param 5 years ago

Mr.Ms. Param-your individual's GOOD experience is just an isolated case.Majority of taxi/auto drivers-irrespective of colour of cab,these taxi/auto drivers do not loose a fraction of a second-to fleece passangers.

Even there are examples of pretending taxi engine failure mid way for a pre paid taxis and passangers are asked to hire another cab and pay fresh charges to new driver.

All conscerned must accelerate this momentum of starting public transport -point to point-for air/rail/intercity bus passangers coming to Mumbai

param

In Reply to DEEPAKSB 5 years ago

i have spent almost 3-4 weeks in mumbai as visitor/tourist engaging taxis (both meru & regular) for short/long distances, including to/from airport. some journeys are pleasant, some are ordinary, but i did not get the feeling i was being fleeced every time.
it is important that people try to find out some basic information about the place they are visiting, if they are new.
e.g. the pre-paid taxi receipt must be handed over to the driver only on reaching your desination - if traveler follows this rule, it does not matter if engine breakdown happens or not - the driver will do what is needed to reach you to get his money. in case of radio taxis, complaining (or even threat) is usually enough, as the company may not help you, but can harass them enough.
i recall sahara had started an a/c service across western express highway to connect to airport, but abandoned it due to lack of customer interest. lets face it, despite all we write here, at the end of the day, none of us would prefer to travel in the bus especially since significant cases of air travel is paid for by someone else (company, client, govt, etc.)

Ravindra

5 years ago

It is completely not understandable why BEST is not doing it.

In fact, few years back there was a BEST bus on Western Expressway which used to go inside to the airport terminal and was very useful for the passengers with light luggage as well as the people who went to pick up their guests.
Why the service was stopped and what was the consideration was never published. The newspapers and the channels who make a hue and cry on small issues also remained silent and never fought over the issue.

REPLY

param

In Reply to Ravindra 5 years ago

i believe the service is still there. this is what is used by the airport/airline ground staff. of course they would stop at a location not so convenient for the passengers & also since BEST don't allow big luggage, it is not feasible for all...

Vipul

5 years ago

Suggestion of diversion are given as in Mumbai there is nothing happening on new mode of transports
A new partneship will take ages to materialise best example is the Andheri Versova Ghatkopar Metro
The secong metro has no signs and everything is on paper only for 3rd metro BWSL is not getting extended nor is there a Coastal Ferry Service in place.
Day by Day the Roads are getting from Bad to worse (this monsoon we should be prepared for distartous roads as they have stopped doing pothole fillings also )and Asking for new will never be implemented in next 3 to 5 years atleast diversions and suggestions will get alternative mode of transport immediately
Also my suggestion was to help commuters with immediate resources available.We are very happy for GVK partnership proposal but when will that happen is big issue ??? We are willing to help on that but do let us know on that ! But for the time being lets ask to start something for some respite for all commuters

Sucheta Dalal

5 years ago

I think we are falling into the trap of thinking along the lines of BEST....
When we made our representation we were NOT talking about diverting bus routes. We were talking about a separate shuttle - if the GVK partnership will not give it parking - we the citizens need to fight for it.
The charges on this will be significantly higher than the BEST route - but will allow people to hop on with their bags - leave the airport every 10 to 15 minutes and reach home comfortably. For the suburbs, the last bit can be an auto. It is a nightmare to get a TAXI or AUTO at the airport without being fleeced. Wouldn't you want to be able to take a BUS which allows a strolley to be uploaded in it, which you are travelling overnight - and hop off at Vashi and do the last leg in a local auto?
We can price it at double the AC bus fare and it will still be cheaper than a black-and-yellow taxi.

Vipul

5 years ago

Suggestions for BEST for A/c Bus Routes

Divert Route A 74 from Oshiwara to town via AS 4 route till circle then let the bus ply to Andheri Flyover via Juhu Galli and take the highway and go via Airport

Divert Route AS 2 via Airport

Start Route AS515 from Oshiwara to CBD Belapur via Oshiwara - Link Road - Juhu Galli Andheri W/E Highway - Airport and via Kalina BKC - Kalanagar and then on Route AS 505

Extend Route AS 5 via Airport to Oshiwara Depot

Make Oshiwara a hub for AC buses so that with even less engineers the buses can be maintained

The BEST can also merge Route 524 & 525 and start a bus via link route to Navi Mumbai

Ac Buses 551 & 422 can also be extended till Oshiwara and have more patronage from Lokhandwala and Andheri as there are lot of commuters for Andheri and would be more profitable for BEST

The above will give connectivty to Domestic Airport atleast and that too without starting new routes
The Routes will give connectivity as below

Colaba - AS 2 & A 74
Thane AS 5
Navi Mumbai - AS 515
Borivali/Dahisar AS 2

REPLY

Amit

In Reply to Vipul 5 years ago

Good Suggestion. But one missing point - Luggage accomodation. If BEST extends the route u have suggested what will they do for passengers luggage? Also where is the place inside ac bus?

Vipul

In Reply to Amit 5 years ago

Considering the Current Financial position of BEST they will not introduce new routes as it is they are terminating non profitable routes.Also in AC buses there is enough space near the Second door which is not opened by the buses (a/c) to keep luggage.My only take is we can suggest BEST to extend and divert to make it profitable for BEST and beneficial for commuters also.Any new routes they would only start after considering feasbility,the suggestions will also take care of current demand and can be implement asap and help commuters.

Vikas Arora

5 years ago

Delhi and bangalore have extremely functional AC bus service to all parts of city.Its not only economical and reduces congestion but makes the local travel safer for passengers. BEST can't run , give it to private operators

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Vikas Arora 5 years ago

Chennai has an excellent local bus service too, on some routes I have observed how the AC bus comes first, followed by the deluxe and then followed by the ordinary, which makes logical sense. Likewise, Hyderabad has (I am told) a feasible bus service connecting the airport to all 3 railway stations and bus terminii. Delhi, certainly, has gone way ahead in terms of public transport, and it is most certainly an electoral issue here.

I guess people in Mumbai will have to start demanding this of their corporators and elected representatives too, and soon.

DrSharmila Rao PN

5 years ago

maybe it is time we did a good overhauling of our public transport and route sanction system.

param

5 years ago

" the services were discontinued due to poor response from the passengers who required services right up to their door step"

before criticising BEST for total failure, let us also see if their stance is valid. we have to admit that there is a huge difference between mindset of air passengers in india (who mostly consider themselves elite) v/s the developed world (who are common citizens). i can understand why the service failed in mumbai (& may fail in delhi) where people are too status conscious & riding a bus is seen as derogatory. delhi metro to airport is successful because metro is still a fancy mode, change that with local trains & it will fail yet again. if i were BEST, i would expect someone to guarantee that my losses will be covered if there are no takers for the routes agreed upon.

REPLY

deepaksb

In Reply to param 5 years ago

Failure of BEST shuttle-could be and must be due to improper publicity- publicity un professionally done in house !!! if all media,announcements at both domestic and international locations , proper display boards,internet/web site publicity on MIAL / airport authority and all airlines forced to make announcement upon landing can make passangers aware of service.BEST publicity dept. may not have much insetive to promote shuttle service !!!!!

param

In Reply to deepaksb 5 years ago

the same should apply to delhi metro as well. i have read accounts from travellers that it is utmost difficult for any new entrants to locate the way to metro while at the airport. popularity has come from blogs & travelers sharing how they could save on time (& money for 1-2 travelers). of course the fact that it is more professionally managed than BEST does help.

malq

5 years ago

This is a subject I have been following with interest, the deterioration in public transport in and around Mumbai, with selective improvements like the Dadar-Pune bus links providing relief in what is otherwise a bleak scenario.

Good luck Mumbai.

Maybe one solution could be the combination of private competition from private/co-op bus operators plying on the same routes as BEST along with seat taxi operations. Along with that, elimination of VIP parking facilities and making this an electoral issue.

rgds/Veeresh

Anon

5 years ago

"Mumbai remains the only metro in India as well in the world to be without any dedicated airport bus shuttle service connecting important parts of the city to the airport. "

The characters who think Mumbai will be a leading financial capital of the world are either delirious or fools. If such an important issue is overlooked by these jokers there is nothing left to be said about their rustic vision.
Everyone knows that visiting the airport is a costly and challenging affair with neither train nor bus connectivity. The taxi drivers are all hand in glove with the police and behave like ruffians. Spectacular delays during the rainy season is a given with taxis waiting to fleece customers.

It is regrettable that BEST is filled with country bumpkins. But then so is BMC. Most of Mumbai is rot. Perhaps such a poor introduction to an international traveller fits our status and alerts him to what she/ he is signing up for.

REPLY

Ravindra

In Reply to Anon 5 years ago

You are very right. BEST is full of the country bumpkins and have never tried to find out what the other cities, even in India, forget about the World, are managing their affairs.
We in Mumbai are on a downhill. There are also no Black and yellow taxies which were available at the Airports which passengers used to take standing in a queue. It has been stopped and even at Domestic Airport (SantaCruz) you have to necessarily take a prepaid taxi (same black and yellow taxi) and shell out about Rs. 70.00 more. When I take a taxi in the morning from Shivaji Park to Santacruz airport it costs me Rs 105.00. In the evening way back I have to take a Prepaid cab only and pay upwards of Rs. 170-180.

malq

In Reply to Ravindra 5 years ago

That 70-80 rupees extra is the revenue model for MIAL and associates - probably for parking + havaldar fitting + RTO "paanch number" and finally also for the "union". Maybe an RTI with the RTO on how the fares were set would be of use?

deepaksb

5 years ago

There appears to be no commercial motive from MIAL /taxi/auto unions for not providing facility for BEST to start such service.

Its not only airport-but all major railway junctions / interstate bus depots in Mumbai/Thane/Navi Mumbai should have such shuttle services.This will avoid fleecing from Taxi/Auto drivers AT LEAST to an outsider visiting Mumbai/Thane/Navi Mumbai.

I congratulate Moneylife team to take up such a nobel cause.

All readers who can contribute their expertise and influence to implement this- should come forward for benifit of commen citizens.

Sensex, Nifty may move further down: Monday Closing Report

Nifty may be headed for 5,145 and then to 5,080

Weak global cues and fear of the proposed tax implications, which prompted Macquarie to exit from its short positions in the Indian single stock futures, led the market lower. In our Friday’s closing report we had mentioned that the Nifty may move in a narrow range of 5,230 and 5,315. Today the index broke the lower range and settled at 5,201. We may now see the benchmark move with a negative bias with some intraday bounce. The index may find its first support at 5,145 and then at 5,080. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a lower volume of 55.50 crore shares.

The market opened marginally lower, reacting to index heavyweight Reliance Industries’ (RIL) 21% dip in net profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 March 2012. The company had declared its results after the market closed on Friday. The Nifty opened 14 points lower at 5,277 and the Sensex resumed trade with a cut of 26 points at 17,348.

However, the indices bounced back into the green on support from banking and auto stocks. The buying activity helped the market hit the day’s high a little after 10.00am. At that point the Nifty went up to 5,311 and the Sensex rose to 17,444.

The market could not sustain the gains and slipped into the red in late morning trade. A media report indicating that Macquarie’s Asia hedge fund has exited its short positions in the Indian single stock futures on concerns about the controversial tax rules announced by the finance minister in his recent Budget speech saw the benchmarks and most sectoral indices falling sharply lower.

 The situation worsened in post-noon trade as the key European indices were trading between 1% and 2% lower in early trade on unending European woes. The market fell to its intraday low towards the end of trade with the Nifty falling to 5,187 and the Sensex tumbling to 17,057.

The market settled marginally off the lows. The Nifty closed 90 points down at 5,201 and the Sensex finished trade at 17,097, a decline of 277 points.

The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was tilted towards the losers at 430:1315.

The broader were equally mauled in today’s market slide. The BSE Mid-cap index tanked 1.67% and the BSE Small-cap index dropped by 1.67%.

All sectoral indices closed in the red today. The top losers were BSE Realty (down 3.17%); BSE TECk (down 3.02%); BSE IT (down 2.94%); BSE Metal (down 2.86%) and BSE Capital Goods (down 2.85%).

Sun Pharma (up 1.07%); ONGC (up 0.70%); Reliance Industries (up 0.64%); NTPC (down 0.30%) and HDFC (down 0.06%) were the Sensex gainers. The top losers on the index were Hindalco Industries (down 4.88%); Jindal Steel (down 4.32%); DLF (down 4.21%); BHEL (down 4.19%) and Infosys (down 3.92%).

The key gainers on the Nifty were Sun Pharma (up 1.22%); ACC (up 1.07%); RIL (up 0.70%); NTPC (up 0.67%) and ITC (up 0.12%). The main laggards were Reliance Power (down 6.08%); Reliance Communications (down 5.80%); Reliance Infrastructure (down 5.59%); Jindal Steel (down 5.29%) and Hindalco Ind (down 5%).

Markets across Asia closed in the negative despite a stability seen in Chinese manufacturing stabilising in April. The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index showed China’s factory output ticked higher at 49.1 in April from 48.3 in March. However, the reading is still below 50, a contraction for the sixth consecutive month. Analysts attributed to today’s market decline to lower-than-expected earnings reports from Daewoo Engineering and Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co.

The Shanghai Composite declined 0.76%; the Hang Seng tanked 1.84%; the Jakarta Composite dropped by 0.62%; the KLSE Composite slipped by 0.51%; the Nikkei 225 fell by 0.20%; the Straits Times declined by 1.07%; the Seoul Composite shed 0.10% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.35% lower. At the time of writing, the key European indices were down between 1.62% and 2.63% and the US stocks futures were in the red, indicating a soft start to the US markets.

Back home, institutional investors—both foreign and domestic—were net buyers of stocks on Friday. While foreign institutional investors pumped in Rs314.04 crore, domestic institutional investors infused Rs134.74 crore into equities.

Tata Motors and DRB-HICOM Defence Technologies (DEFTECH) have signed an agreement to develop, promote and market Tata Motors’ high mobility 4x4 trucks for the armed forces of Malaysia. DEFTECH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DRB-HICOM Berhad, will initially work on two models in the 2.5 tonnes to 5 tonnes payload range—the LPTA 715 and LPTA 1623—an official statement said. Tata Motors declined 2.42% to close at Rs309 on the NSE.

Power transmission equipment major EMCO has commissioned its 5 MW Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant located at Fatepur village in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. This project is based on the crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology. The plant will generate sufficient green energy, so as-to avoid 7,500 MT of carbon emission per annum. The stock closed at Rs30.15 on the NSE, down 0.99% from its previous close.

Kanoria Chemicals & Industries is mulling a foray into the automotive component business by acquiring 90% stake in Switzerland-based APAG Holding AG for over Rs44 crore. The balance 10% stake will be acquired by 2014 on the basis of a pre-fixed pricing formula. The stock jumped 5.51% to close at Rs35.45 on the NSE.

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SC seeks Centre’s response on PIL against Cairn-Vedanta deal

A bench of justices DK Jain and Anil R Dave issued a notice to the Centre seeking its reply on the PIL which also sought an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General into the various aspects of the deal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response to a plea challenging the validity of the $8.5 billion Cairn-Vedanta deal and seeking a CBI probe into the reasons for ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) and government in “not asserting”their legal rights on the issue, reports PTI.

A bench of justices DK Jain and Anil R Dave issued notice to the Centre seeking its reply on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which also sought an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) into the various aspects of the deal.

It also sought the CAG audit of the government's approvals for acquisition of majority stake of Cairn India by Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources on the ground that the offer in this regard should have gone first to the state-owned PSU (public sector unit) ONGC.

On the PIL, the bench issued notices also to the ONGC, Cairn Energy and Vedanta Resources.

Earlier, on 2 March 2012, a bench of justices HL Dattu and CK Prasad had recused itself from hearing the plea.

The PIL filed by a Bangalore resident Arun Kumar Agarwal stated that the ONGC, in an agreement with Cairn group, had a clause that in case the Cairn Group wanted to sell its shares in Cairn India, it would first offer the same to the ONGC.

As per the clause, Cairn could sell its shares to other parties, only after the ONGC refused to buy the stake and the ONGC, thus had the right of first refusal (ROFR), it said.

It alleged that the decision on the deal had been made on “extraneous considerations” and without taking into account the relevant aspects.

The petition said had the ONGC, which was Cairn India’s joint venture partner, been offered its ROFR for Cairn India’s shares and had it exercised its right, the exchequer would have benefited by over Rs1 lakh crore.

Cairn Energy, however, signed a deal with the Vedanta group to sell its shares in Cairns India, without making an offer to the ONGC, the PIL said.

Cairn India, a subsidiary of UK-based Cairns Energy, is the operator of the Rajasthan oil block.

It entered into an agreement with UK-based Vedanta Group on 16 June 2010 to sell 51%-60% of its shares in Cairn India, for a consideration of around $8.5 billion, without offering the shares to its partner ONGC in the joint venture as per the agreement of right of first refusal, the PIL had stated.

Mr Agarwal was also the first complainant in the 2G spectrum scam resulting in the lodging of the FIR.

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COMMENTS

Sunil Sheth

5 years ago

Since the root cause of such matters is validity of ROFRs and Pre-emptive rights, an immediate and final clarification by the Supreme Court of India, in consultation with market regulator SEBI, is highly essential. Once this is decided, many pending cases would automatically be solved and in future companies can decide its course of action considering the same.

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