Citizens' Issues
BEST will start a dedicated Mumbai Airport shuttle but it wants a dedicated lane

BEST, the public transport service provider in Mumbai, will operate a bus shuttle from the airport to various parts of the city only if it gets a dedicated lane. But experts have criticised the BEST’s pre-condition as unacceptable

reported yesterday how the absence of a dedicated bus shuttle at the Mumbai airport is leaving passengers stranded at the airport terminal for as much as two hours sometimes. (Read, You have landed at Mumbai. Where's the shuttle to go home? Part 1.)  The problem is the scarcity of pre-paid taxis which are also expensive and the refusal by regular autorickshaw and taxi drivers to ply over short distances.

Transport experts are unanimous that a special bus shuttle with adequate luggage space for passengers going to and coming from the airport is required urgently. It should be well-connected with South Mumbai and the central and western suburbs, on the lines of a similar service that is available in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

However, BEST, the public bus transport operator that has a monopoly in Mumbai, has a different take on this. When Moneylife asked BEST why Mumbai doesn't have a bus shuttle transport to the airport like that in Bangalore and other cities, the chief public relations officer replied, "We are ready to start a dedicated bus service to the airport only if we are provided with dedicated lanes by the government and MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority)."

This reply has surprised activists, who say that the demand is unviable, in view of the overall transport situation and the traffic congestion in Mumbai.

"I am surprised that BEST needs a bus lane for starting a bus service to cater to all persons and passengers going to or coming from the airport to various parts of the city," says Ashok Datar, transport expert. "Literally thousands of people visit the airport every day, the proportion of those using buses is negligible as the buses are away and apparently meant for the employees. There are no bright indicators on the availability of buses to various areas with enough info and publicity. This is the basic reform."

BEST, currently, has a bus service to the airport. But it is a regular service used mainly by the staff working at the airport. "The current service by BEST is a regular one. Even for that the frequency of buses is less, and worse, the bus stops are often not visible," says Mr Datar.

Sudhir Badami, another expert, believes that the BEST should focus on the viability of starting such a service. "Such a reply demanding a dedicated lane to provide a dedicated bus service to Mumbai airport is inappropriate. Instead, the BEST should focus on bargaining on the viability of the buses, the fares, which RTO wouldn't allow to hike, and overall economic viability of the service. If they don't consider such things, then even giving a dedicated lane would prove unviable."

Jagdeep Desai, architect and founder trustee of the Forum for Improving the Quality of Life in Mumbai Suburbs, says that the demand for a dedicated lane is only an excuse not to provide the service. "Looks like some excuse to not give a service. Incidentally, some of the BEST buses of the JNNURM King Longs (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) were leased to Air India to transport passengers to and from the aircraft to the airport. This means they have surplus buses. Besides, the auto and taxi unions, as well as the fleet taxis, would also have a strong say in resisting such convenient and comfortable services."

Activist lawyer Mohana Nair recalls one such bus service by the BEST to the airport. "BEST had started a bus service from the airport (Sahar) via Santacruz to Colaba. It was not air-conditioned, but it was one of their star buses with a place in the centre for luggage. I remember seeing it in Sahar and talking to the conductor who seemed very proud of what they were doing, but said most people did not even know such a service existed. This was maybe three years ago, and it was discontinued as they did not have enough people travelling on it," she told Moneylife.

However, activists point out that the bus service should have enough luggage space, with a frequency of 15 minutes and the shuttle service should be easily identifiable.

Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) has a Volvo bus service, by the name of Vayu Vajra, that offers air-conditioned comfort to passengers and is available round the clock, providing connectivity between important areas of the city and the airport.

Similarly, in Hyderabad, the Aero Express bus service to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is a non-stop airport shuttle service from the airport connecting important destinations in the city. It is run by the GMR group. At Delhi airport, a recently started train service, the Delhi Airport Express, provides easy transport to passengers.



nagesh kini

5 years ago

BEST's demand for a dedicated lane will open a Pandora's box with Ambulances and school buses also demanding use of the lane.
When the buses are such a success in Hyderabad and Bengaluru there is no reason they can't make it work in Mumbai. To augment revenue, they may be allowed to pick citizens willing to pay higher fares. I've seen airline ground staff availing the buses in Bengaluru. Where there is a will there will always be a way. The BEST Committee Chairman and the GM need to be brought around by convincing them of the Hyderabad and Bengaluru success stories.


5 years ago

Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, the highest tax paying city in the country struggles for smaller amenities like a basic airport shuttle service, a metro rail line, upgradation of local train systems. Why?
Its home to the biggest industralialists, filmstars and politicians, who are busy doing charity at all places except mumbai. U can see them going to smaller villages and building houses. but no one is ready to rebuild Dharavi. U can c them developing roads and planning cities but for mumbai, they can even voice their concerns for a dedicated bus service... above all the people of mumbai are to blame.. This mumbai which was everyone's has now become a Maharashtrian mumbai.. Others are threatened be it muslims or biharis or madrasis or gujratis.. Now it is no ones home.. no ones land and so people come, work and die without even bothering to complain.. God SAVE my Mumbai.. my home..

D Sukumar

6 years ago

It is true that BEST had introduced a bus service from the International airport via the domestic airport to south of Mumbai via Dadar,plying every half hour. The staff manning the bus was so enthusiastic that they used to call out for passengers at the airport, but for some strange reasons the bus service was discontinued, probably due to lack of clientele. I had myself availed the service a few times and it was very convenient. It is a shame that a city like Mumbai which boasts of the best public transport in the country does not have an affordable service from and to the airports from different parts of the city.

Adi Daruwalla

6 years ago

The demand by BEST is viable partially. On the eastern and western express highways and expressways. one lane (service roads) can be dedicated for the BEST Rapid transport system. If you dont provide this lane, then how do you expect them to provide speedy and reliable service. On the other roads BEST has to make do with the exisiting infrastructure. Then there has to be proper flow of information informing people about this service. The time frame cannot be every 15 minutes as it has to be a financially viable solution. The arrival and departure times have to be studied and schedules made accordingly. Touts have to be removed those who run to load bags etc. A study and analyss needs to be done and then a project implemented.

Nagesh Kini FCA

6 years ago

Who says BEST has the monopoly on Mumbai's roads. Schools have fleets of buses. Corporates have buses for transporting their staff. Mumbai darshan buses run all over. Buses on dedicated runs shouldn't be a big deal. These are days of liberalization, BEST has to concede.

a v moorthi

6 years ago

In Hyderabad the Airport is some 35 Kms from Secunderabad Railway station and the builders of the Airport GMR run an A/C Volvo bus on either direction over 40 trips each round the clock for flat rate of Rs 180/- are so they drop and pick passengers from about 8 points enroute and cover the distance in about 75 minutes. So if the Airport builders GVK want definitely they can offer a service with out depending on BEST.

BEST should made to run this sort of a service because as a Public transport provider they are bound to offer such charges with special tarrifs and specific stops.

Home loans: The safe and smart way to overcome rising interest rates

The best way to cope up with rising interest rates on home loans is to make part pre-payments, says Satish Kumar, national credit manager, mortgages, ICICI Bank

The best way to manage your mortgage in a floating-rate regime and to keep your monthly payments under check is to budget for making regular part pre-payments over the tenure of your loan, Satish Kumar, national credit manager, mortgages, at ICICI Bank, said today. He was speaking at a workshop by Moneylife Foundation.

With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) having hiked interest rates 12 times in 18 months, dealing with higher equated monthly instalments (EMIs) is a reality that all borrowers have to live with. The workshop aimed to inform and educate savers on how to borrow safely and navigate the interest rate storm.

While the government and policymakers advise lending institutions to extend loan tenures instead of raising EMIs, the borrowers face a dilemma over whether to keep their EMI constant or their tenure constant on their mortgage, for which the cost implications are significantly different. "If you have any long-term loan, plan to make part pre-payments," Mr Kumar said. The payment made will directly get adjusted with the outstanding principal resulting in a lower interest payout. Most banks do not charge any part pre-payment penalty.

Mr Kumar also suggested that borrowers who receive an income hike should start saving to make a lump-sum part pre-payment rather than going through the hassle of increasing the EMI. He also said that opting for an increase in EMI would be a better option as the interest burden is reduced. However, the decision would depend on the borrower's ability to service the higher EMI.

At the start of his presentation Mr Kumar cleared the common dilemma faced by new borrowers, whether it is a new property or resale, whether to buy now or later, and whether to go for a fixed interest rate or floating rate loan. While the choice of property depends on individual preference, Mr Kumar said people who have the funds in place should go ahead and buy the property if it is for personal use, since no one can really predict future interest rates.

He also said that most often people who end up in a debt trap get into trouble because of multiple borrowings. Having availed of a home loan, they also take personal loans and auto loans. For bankers, defaults on the smaller value loans are usually the first sign of a possible problem. Mr Kumar cautioned people against multiple borrowings, especially in times of rapid interest rate changes.

Mr Kumar also spoke on the obligation of joint owners and about the clearance of the property title. Joint applicants are equally liable to pay for the loan even if they are not joint owners of the property or are earning members. Usually, joint owners are unaware of their obligations.

Mr Kumar suggested individuals should do their own legwork to get the title of the property checked. Presently, 90% of the activity is manual. Hence one could take the services of a lawyer to check the property title.

Responding to a question on the insurance charged by banks along with the home loan, Mr Kumar said that though it was not compulsory it was essential to be adequately insured. If the loan is insured, the balance payment of the loan is cleared by the insurance company in case of death of the borrower. This would save the family and dependants additional financial stress.

Post the seminar, the participants had an opportunity to have their personal queries resolved in a one-to-one discussion with ICICI home finance experts.



girish prasad

6 years ago

we are taking loan due to shotage of fund so prepayment is not solution to this rise of interest.
we should check that this type of rise should not be misused by lenders. as today banks are lendind money to new customer to 10.75 to 11.00% but for old it is now 14.5 to 15% and that is due to misuse of every rise of repo reverse repo slr and so on.Actual cost of fund today is 11.00 but still they are charging 15 to old customers.


6 years ago

After making prepayment don't forget to get a Account statement from Bank. I had made a Prepayment and Axis Bank has considered the payment after 1 month in accounts while they have debited my bank on same day. This make customers loose out on Interest and seems like standard practice at Axis bank.
Today after more then 50 days, Axis bank has still not provided me with updated Account statement ( after they acknowledged that they did screw up) and their Branch in Bangalore ( Jayanagar) could be case study on how bad customer support could be.

Also just think how strictly Bank enforces Pre-Emi for even 1 day.


6 years ago

Nice article. I would love to see videos of the talk also. Really helpful if implemented.

Gurgaon industrial unrest will give Maruti Suzuki a severe blow

The labour face-off, spearhead by Maruti Suzuki workers, is spreading all through the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt. The Haryana government is blaming the workers now

The Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt unrest, spearheaded by the Maruti Suzuki face-off, seems to be getting worse. Yesterday, (19th September), Haryana labour minister Shiv Charan Lal Sharma blamed Maruti workers' "adamant" attitude for the breakdown of talks with the company management.

"Workers are not agreeing to come back to their jobs unless those workers who have been suspended and dismissed are taken back by the management," Mr Sharma said, while expressing disappointment over the workers' stance.

According to Mr Sharma, it is not possible for Maruti Suzuki to take back workers, against whom an FIR (first information report) has been filed and criminal cases have been launched.

The clash between the Maruti Suzuki management and workers has been going on since 29th August. The management had prevented workers from entering the factory premises unless they signed a "good conduct" bond, after alleged sabotage and "deliberate compromise" on the quality of cars being produced.

Workers had also been accused of attacking a group of supervisors when the labour unrest took a violent turn last week. There seems to be a glimmer of hope—talks will again start today to end the deadlock.

But what is the ground reality?

A drive towards that belt revealed more red flags up and running in this now-troubled industrial and commercial belt than seen before. But more interestingly, and symptomatic of the real gravity of issues there, some industrialists have been seriously looking at relocating. This could be to another state in India—or even the UAE. One unit which used to provide speciality generators, has already done so.
People who run industrial units in this area have been murmuring about the cost of doing business having gone up—to almost one-third of turnover. Where the units are linked to European or American interests, the anti-bribery laws in their home country make matters very difficult, as far as compliance norms are concerned. There are only so many one-line bills from 'consultants' or others that the auditors will accept. In addition, the forthcoming anti-corruption laws in India, which do not seem to realise and accept the gravity of the situation for entrepreneurs—who have to pay for everything or else see their business go kaput—are beginning to worry people too.
What kind of impact will this have on the automobile industry, which had its nursery in the Gurgaon area with the advent of Maruti Udyog, is out there clear to see and the writing is on the walls of the trucks idling outside the Maruti Suzuki factories. It is not safe to pull out a camera due to the heavy presence of police and private security, and Maruti Suzuki's well known heavy-handedness towards media—which is not "co-operative"—is real and true.

But a drive there and back without the bandobast of a PR junket would be essential soon for motoring and business media currently trotting out an "All is Well" as though they are the jailors in Bimal Roy's classic Bandini.
All is not well in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt, India's largest car manufacturer has the industry at stake there, and why does it feel as though they are playing things to a plan?

And clearly, the government is not pitching for the workers. Haryana labour commissioner Satwanti Ahlawat has said that protesting workers are being misled by "certain elements" who do not want the matter be resolved. "During the talks, it came to notice that there is a clear intention of a few persons, backed by some political support, who want to mislead workers," she said. Ms Ahlawat added that at the instance of the Labour Department, the management had agreed to consider taking back those workers against whom the charges were not serious.

Meanwhile, the face-off continues—and the auto industry is on tenterhooks.



a v moorthi

6 years ago

Who but only Maruti Suzuki workers are to be blamed. They should under stand Suzuki being a Japanese company shows zero tolerance to defects in production quality and hence Management had to be strict with rouge elements in factory who tampered.

As long as worker unions continue to e lead by outsiders who don't have any stake in survival of the Unit , in long run workers will be thrown out in the street.


Suresh S Bisht

In Reply to a v moorthi 6 years ago

Martui and most of japanish companies do not follow labour laws. Forming a union is a right of workers as provided in the Trade Union Act as well as a right granted under our Constitution (right to form association). However, it is prerogative of the employer to give recognistion to a particular union. In a company there may be more than one union and normally employer deals with the union with larger number. The problem with these MNC that they don't follow Indian labour laws. Laws may be good or bad. It has to be followed. The Maruti Management dismissed workers (as per media report) even without giving an opportunity to explain. This is against basic law that a person should be given opportunity to defend himself. Whether Maruti or any other Japnise company or other MNC can do it in their own country, it is doubtful. In my view, the problem is that the top management is making huge money in the form of bonus, salary, options, etc while a labour who gets minimum wages or low salary while working for 8-9 hours in a day. Then the worker was retrenched for losses as he was blamed for that. No top management takes blame for this. They never get sacked but their remuneration gets increased. A worker get limited bonus while a managment employee gets a lot of bonus and other perks. Workers sees this wide disparity and gets angry. They know that they are blamed for everything (from recession to obsoletness). This is the result of all this and this is happening all over India. Government as well as Labour Authorities whose function is to be neutral and resolving disputes normally takes side of management due to various reasons (money for election funding is one of them). There should be some control on these MNC before they control the Government as well as Economy. It is keep in mind that in most of the industries MNC are getting stronger or taking larger share while indian parties are either selling their stake or incurring losses. Government should seriously pay attention to this.

a v moorthi

In Reply to Suresh S Bisht 6 years ago

i hail from Kerala but never stayed there for more than 4 days a year because strike in daily life there is like taking meals a daily affair. You might not know some 2000 companies in Kerala have applied for fast exit - closure during the last one year. for the month of August 2011 it is 31. As regards to Indian partners selling of their stakes it is because in most cases Indian partners swindle out their stake illegally from the enterprise. Most recent and famous one is Telnor - Unitech where in the Unitech members have soiled the reputation of Telnor. Why Bengal industrial areas look like grave yard/ ghost towns thanks to excessive TU activities. So it is easy like Human rights activists to talk about human right violations by security forces without actually being in hot seat. Why don't you write about monthly earnings of Maruti workers. Definitely chalta hai attitude should not be encouraged, because that is why we are seeing failing of public utility service every where because of excessive protection to employees. So much so that the rot of chalta hai attitude has entered in our homes where in there are homes where parents are not able to enforce moral discipline.

Suresh S Bisht

In Reply to a v moorthi 6 years ago

Talking about kerela and west bengal, note that these two states are governed by communist. Workers has nothing to do with that. Strikes are weapon used by workers for protecting their right and these are legal ways, if it is justified. This is provided in the law. Maruti whatever is today because of cheap land provided by Government of India and tax concession given by them. I fail to understand that why not all big managment guy ever get a sack for their poor performance e.g. Amabanis, mittals, etc. They are running the show. They are into all these scandals. They run their shows through big lobbying organisations (big three) and there are so many trade bodies. We all know what they do. Nobody thinks about poor labour. Further, a labour has to fight his own case, if there is no trade union while a company uses the best lawyer (Sr Advocate) to suppress that employee and it cost a huge amount of money. MNC go till SC to fight their case. Just think about poor people how will he defend him in the higher courts, in HC and SC. It is very easy to blame poor worker/ labour. All these big industriaslist travel in planes, stay in five star hotels, get spacious flats, in the name of corporate and all the money is being paid by company, shareholders, by banks (funded). No one gets their own money. These corporate gives huge money to get a license. They don't follow tax laws, esp MNC. Check cases, IT department continously takes matter with them. then they make cartels in tyre,cement, airlines, and flee consumers. They never get caught. What will poor worker who is earning max 20000 who has to run his family and fight for his right also. Nobody thinks about them. No government, no labour ministery. I don't expect corporate to do that. However, people working in corporate who are getting fat pay are just interested in their salary or bonuses. Unior is part of Unitech. They chose unitech because they wanted license and who else can give them license than an Indian comapny. Now they are suffering. all the top managemnet should go to Jail, Tihar Jail, only then they learn how the system works in India. All big corporates are into these types of shady deals whether it is relating to real estates, procuring license, suppressing the labour, etc. In Germany, workers get a seat in Board of the Company and in India, employees even do not get a right to form trade union which is their legitimate right due to scared management and pro corporate management. Further, Maruti is willing to suffer huge loss but willing to allow form a trade union. Even Maruti shifts to Gujarat, they will face same problem as Gujarat is less corrupt than other states. It is better if all these MNC leaves India and go back to their own country and do whatever they want.

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