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Old 27th December 2013, 16:38   #1
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Default Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Itís been a while I was planning to post this article. I am sure many others will agree with my point of view and may have experienced many of the instances mentioned below. Moderators, I tried to find relevant thread for this but could manage to find one and hence a new thread. You can merge it with any existing thread if you feel itís more suitable there.

Mumbaikars will be familiar with the word BEST. It is the local bus transport providing company in Mumbai. It is the 2nd lifeline post Mumbai local trains. BEST is the company that has more than 3300 buses plying on ~ 335 routes commuting more than 45 lakh passengers. These statistics are phenomenal and shows how important it is for the city of Mumbai. The company is doing this duty every day for years together with a lot of efficiency. Hats off for the dedication of the company.

I am writing this article to highlight the menace created by BEST buses and their in-famous drivers. If you are in Mumbai you would have had your share with BEST buses. Below are some of the frequent issues faced:
  1. Frequent break-downs
    Every alternate day you will come across BEST bus break-downs. These breakdowns happen at peak-hours and lead to major traffic jams and inconvenience to the passengers and others travelling on the road. Most of the buses in of BEST are pretty old and suffer frequent break-downs. Infact the AC buses (Cerita buses) are a major cause of concern for the company as they face frequent break-downs. There is an article on www.timesofindia.com which says BEST sees on an average 60 break-downs on a daily basis. There is a lot of money being spent on servicing these break-downs, spares, repairs, etc. Break downs are mainly due to:
    • Tyre punctures (nothing much can be done here)
    • Accidents (this is covered in third point below)
    • Break-down due to lack of proper maintenance

  2. Dilapidated conditions
    Another big cause of concern is the dilapidated buses. BEST doesnít have any safety standards for the buses for the safety/comfort of their passengers. Talking about the interiors:
    • BEST buses (except AC buses) have no doors
    • Window panes are broken and many times they are not operational
    • Broken seats and torn seat fabrics
    • Lack of handles for standing passengers, etc.
    Talking about exteriors:
    • Most BEST buses have broken metal pieces (from previous accidents) jetting out. These are extremely dangerous for vehicles around
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    • Tail lights and side indicators are not operational or broken. For side indicators they still use the traditional arrow next to driverís window (hope you have noticed the same)

  3. Reckless driving
    For the past few years, BEST drivers are famous for their reckless driving. BEST has its own driving lessons for new drivers but somehow the drivers are not given any lessons on the soft skills in driving like lane discipline, timely/softer braking (avoid jerks to passengers), following traffic rules and signals, etc. To a certain extent Mumbai traffic, dilapidated buses, etc. are responsible for the drivers frustration but thatís not a justification for such reckless driving. Passenger safety and safe driving is their biggest responsibility. I have tried to categorize the reckless driving into different heads:
    • Accidents
      Like break-downs, BEST bus accidents is a usual site on Mumbai roads. In Mumbai there is a saying ďNever mess with a BESTĒ. If you get involved in an accident with a BEST bus ensure that you report the same to the BEST authorities (contacts given below). This is one way we make these reckless drivers more responsible.
      Media Coverage for some BEST accidents:Name:  BEST2.jpg
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    • Late and sudden braking
      Someone who has travelled in BEST buses will easily co-relate with this point. Drivers have a usual habit of late and sudden braking. This often leads to serious jerks to passengers. I have seen many instances where people bang their heads against the front seats and standing passengers even falling down. This is an inconvenience to passengers and leads to injuries.
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    • Breaking traffic rules/signals
      BEST drivers feel they own the road and they frequently break signals or traffic rules. They donít stop at signals and at times stop halfway down the signal. They overtake you from any direction; if you leave any gap either on your right/left be rest assured BEST bus will find its way. I have lost my left mirror when a bus tried to overtake me from left without sufficient gap for a bus to enter.
    • Lane cutting
      If a BEST bus driver has decided to change lanes, he wonít allow anyone to even pass. If your car is in the way, be prepared to get the BEST colour on your car. I have got my rear bumper scratched just because I was unfortunate to be in the way.
    • Lane blocking (driving at 20 km/hr in the fast lane)
      It is really funny to see BEST buses trying to overtake each other on highways or flyovers and none ready to back-out. At times it looks they are driving in formations like aircrafts do during Republic Day march past. While doing so they block the fast lanes piling up traffic behind them. Being heavy vehicles loaded with passengers and having to stop at regular intervals at designated stops, they need to drive in the left most lane

  4. Overcrowded buses
    With increasing population, BEST buses are getting overcrowded and carry load beyond permissible limits. BEST should work in this direction as it is important for the life of their buses and safety of their passengers. Overcrowded buses are unsafe, difficult to maneuver and brake as well as permanently damage the buses.
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  5. Not friendly for handicapped and elderly people
    Traditional BEST buses are not suitable for handicapped and elderly folks. These buses have steps which are pretty high making it impossible for them to board the same. Recent AC buses have lower steps which are more comfortable. They can get more such buses or have folding steps which can be used whenever we have elderly or handicapped passengers. Like this

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  6. Key Contacts
    As I mentioned above, here is the link of key contacts and helpline numbers of BEST which can be used as and when required.
    http://www.bestundertaking.com/help_line.asp
BEST is doing a phenomenal job in Mumbai public transport but has many things to look into. Feel free to add on if I have missed.

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Last edited by Aditya : 30th December 2013 at 08:10.
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Old 27th December 2013, 19:05   #2
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I used to travel a lot in these BEST buses when I was a kid.

Use to always wonder why did the bus create such a racket just to change a gear!When I grew older came to know they don't depress the clutch while shifting at all!
Hats off to the BEST drivers to drive in such pathetic conditions !
Sometimes they do misbehave but put ourselves in their shoes we will come to know the mental and physical stress undergone by them.
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Old 27th December 2013, 20:09   #3
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Nice writeup Tejas!

A few of the bad driving habits I noticed by the drivers:
  1. Riding the clutch - Lowers the FE and damages the mechanicals.
  2. Not taking their foot off the gas while shifting - Gives horrible jerks.
  3. Depressing both gas and brakes!
  4. Not stopping completely to let people get down

All the drivers drive a bit better only for a few weeks (I guess after a training session) and then they are back to usual.

Not to forget how noisy the buses are. And then BEST wants to increase the rates every few months as they are in losses!
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Old 27th December 2013, 21:43   #4
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Replace the word "BEST" in the OP's post with APSRTC or any other RTC and the same conditions and issues will hold true. Also +1 for amolbh's post, especially the points about not stopping fully at stops, and quoting "losses" perennially in-spite of steep rises in ticket prices.

EDIT: The only solution to traffic problems in India is if you are unable to "beat 'em, you join 'em". So, take the bus, or get on to the train, drive a beater and live like you don't care what happens to the bus or the beater. Also, when driving, honk profusely and whenever you feel like it, use the high beams to ensure your presence on the road and close or remove your rear mirrors as they're useless for ever-impatient tailgaters. My experience driving in Hyderabad is this "driving like you can't see or hear properly will keep you safer than giving way and following rules"

Last edited by hellmet : 27th December 2013 at 22:06.
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Old 27th December 2013, 21:51   #5
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

I stayed in Mumbai for about 5 years at a stretch. One of the advises given to me when I left for the Mumbai was to be careful of 2 things.

1. Mumbai Police
2. BEST Buses.

The first never really created issues except stopping me for FFE a few times. Rs 50 did the job.

But BEST buses really scared me. I got on it once but they are more scary when you are outside it. I remember a show or news cover where they mentioned that each year if there is a driver without any accidents he gets a medal. And there was one person who had about 30 of them. No doubt his bus was spic and span.
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Old 27th December 2013, 22:57   #6
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

I am a frequent user of BEST buses and while I do agree with your points of overcrowding during rush hours and high ingress/ egress, I disagree with all your other points. These offer brilliant connectivity at reasonable fares and run at regular intervals and honestly are a extremely convenient more so due to the maddening traffic and parking problems.

Do you think BEST buses are a torture on our streets?? It is a battle out there on the road just to remain an inch ahead of the car/ bike next to you at every second. The BEST drivers are just playing along and being a part of the race. You notice them because of their sheer presence on our streets while others such as bikers, autowallas, cabbies, and those million brainless chauffeurs may just go unnoticed.

Lastly, if you are talking about their condition, then please travel by the local transport buses of other states and am sure your opinion will change.

Does this topic deserve a seperate thread?? Not sure.
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Old 27th December 2013, 23:46   #7
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Best buses are also the life line of Mumbai City. The traffic situation in all big cities is very bad. Given the congestion on roads, driving has become a nightmare. When we find difficult to drive cars and bikes on congested roads than imagine the plight of a Best bus driver who is driving a giant vehicle on those roads which can hardly accommodate a pedestrian during peak hours.

We still manage to get some relief after reaching our work destination and most of us use our cars to drive to office and come back ( to & fro) but these guys are on roads for most of their duty hours and face all sorts of issues.

Accidents take place everywhere these days, but no driver would risk his job and life to deliberately try and put him in that kind of situation. How many accidents have been investigated and how many have occurred because of these guys. We may not have an answer to this. If one tries and spend a complete day with one driver then only we can realise what they go through.

We must salute them for whatever they are doing for us even on public holidays when most of us spend time with our family and friends.

The thread can be moved to street experiences.
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Old 28th December 2013, 00:10   #8
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Hi,

I have been in situations, where I've been cornered by a red BEST bus once in a while. Having said that, we must consider certain conditions before claiming.
- Mumbai has one of the highest vehicle density on the road.
- We add more than 300 vehicles everyday on he city roads
- The BEST buses although fighting fit, clock several hundred kms a day
- Some busses are without creature comfortsof power steering hydraulic clutch etc
- Drivers need to be careful of the cars going by the right and all other forms of transport going on the left
- Ive driven an MB 140 in the city, driving a bus must be a nightmare. The drivers face it every hour.
Given the accidents, complaints of rash driving, etc I still applaud BEST for providing public transport for millions (yes, millions)

PS- Once in a while, I have been commented by a driver "Saavkash chalav bala" drive carefully son in marathi.
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Old 28th December 2013, 00:34   #9
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Just travel to nearby Thane . You will apperciate how good the Mumbai buses are . PS i live in Mumbai and use both Mumbai and Thane services almost regularly .
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Old 28th December 2013, 01:42   #10
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

It's a big city, and BEST has lots of buses. Some are new, some are the ancient clunkers. I would not complain about the condition of the buses in my area. The ones plying in the borivali area are quite well maintained. A particular route, 207, runs the ancient rickety buses. Its a matter of luck, that deoends upon your area of residence. Uptil the year 2010, borivali had lots of double decker buses. Now, they've been pulled from here and are currently in use at andheri.

I find the fares to be reasonable. Jerky driving and not stopping at stops are my only complaints with BEST
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Old 28th December 2013, 08:20   #11
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Wrong section.

Just curious about why this thread is in the "Indian Car Scene" section. I don't see any cars except in one photo where the BEST bus has hit a car!
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Old 28th December 2013, 09:22   #12
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Quote:
Originally Posted by dean5545 View Post
I used to travel a lot in these BEST buses when I was a kid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altocumulus View Post
But BEST buses really scared me.
I lived in Mumbai for the entire nineties, first as a student and later as a new entrant into the Indian workforce.

In the early days, a friend and I figured a great way to spend Sundays. We'd come out of campus, take the first BEST bus we encounter to its last stop (which is more often than not an aagar or sthanak). Have a cup of tea. Take the first bus leaving that point to its final destination. And so on, for the whole day. We called this Bombay Darshan. :-) I attribute my intimate familiarity with Mumbai to this activity - a level of familiarity I don't share with the other cities I have lived in (7 in Hyderabad, now 3 in Bangalore).
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Old 28th December 2013, 10:30   #13
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Quite frankly, I have the following view:
  • Best has some excellent routes.
  • There is lack of planning of routes. Just to give an example; They had AS2 from Dahisar till Mantralaya offering excellent connectivity on a cross country route. Sadly, due to maddening traffic at various junctions, this route started running in losses as people opted to take trains to reach office on time and other contributing factor being the Kinglong buses who have horrible records of break downs. If it's a volvo, I would still take the bus as it is comfy and fast. Eventually, the route got reduced to Mira Road Stn. till Worli.
  • Eradicate corruption at management level. I don't know if it exists or not; but i am told it does. Buying inferior quality parts eventually results the life of the buses.
  • Speak to the drivers and conductors, they are helpless on the vehicles being given to them. I had made good friends with drivers and conductors as I used to take AS2 daily.
  • Mind you, BEST pays its drivers and conductors nicely; I don't think anyone else does it. Most BEST drivers/conductors in their 40's would have a maruti in their garage besides a Bus! So, they know a thing or two about being a "carwale". You give way, you earn respect.
  • Accidents happen; be it bus or car or any other vehicle. I would blame the govt. here; buying a bus with zero safety features is an open invitation to disaster in the making.
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Old 28th December 2013, 11:56   #14
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
I am writing this article to highlight the menace created by BEST buses and their in-famous drivers. If you are in Mumbai you would have had your share with BEST buses. Below are some of the frequent issues faced
Famous drivers I guess!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Frequent break-downs
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Dilapidated conditions
Blame the government and the maintenance team for not looking into the buses. We are paying taxes through our nose and none is put in the public welfare properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Most BEST buses have broken metal pieces (from previous accidents) jetting out.
Pretty dangerous as these objects tend to get in the blind spots and either damage the car or kill a motorist. The drivers of these buses are not able to judge distance with these protruding objects always. Worst part the buses run the same always, the team there is not bothered to rectify those body damages to make life easier and safer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Tail lights and side indicators are not operational or broken. For side indicators they still use the traditional arrow next to driverís window (hope you have noticed the same)
This is a dream I must say to see the lights work and the drivers use them .

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Breaking traffic rules/signals
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Lane cutting
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Lane blocking (driving at 20 km/hr in the fast lane)
The above three points mentioned are theirs from birth. It is their birth right and the agreement for drivers in BEST have the above points mentioned when they take up the job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Overcrowded buses
Can't really help on this as it is up to the Government to add more buses to ease out congestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
Not friendly for handicapped and elderly people
This is a bad remark on their part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas.negandhi View Post
BEST is doing a phenomenal job in Mumbai public transport but has many things to look into. Feel free to add on if I have missed.
It is a government thing and they are lethargic and not interested in solving issues that will make them work better and efficient.


The above points hold true for the APSRTC but they are improving in service wise.

Anurag.
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Old 28th December 2013, 12:03   #15
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Default re: Public Bus Torture - In Mumbai & Delhi

Just to add, their Fort ferries are in horrible condition but, the same star buses run nicely on TMT and VVMT corporations. It is definitely a case of buying cheap spare parts.
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