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BEST Transport

The transport wing of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST Undertaking)
operates a large number of bus services in the Mumbai metropolitan area. These buses are called
BEST or BEST bus. BEST bus serves the entire Mumbai City. It has operations outside city limits
into neighboring Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayandar. In addition to buses, it operates a ferry
service in the northern reaches of the city.
The present BEST undertaking was started as an electric supply company which then branched out
to provide bus and tramservices. In 1964, electric trams were terminated due to high operational
costs and poor public support.


The idea of a mass public transport system for Mumbai was first put forward in 1865 by an American
company, which applied for a licence to operate a horse-drawn tramway system. Although a licence
was granted, the project was never realized, owing to the prevailing economic depression in the city.
The end of the American Civil War, during which Bombay had made vast strides in its economy by
supplying cotton and textiles to the world market, was the reason for the economic downturn.
On 27 November 1871, a notice in the Times of India newspaper by the Bombay Omnibus Service
proposed a bus service betweenMalabar Hill and Fort. However, the proposed monthly pass fare of
30 pounds proved to be too expensive, and the tender was promptly abandoned. [6]

Bombay Tramway Company Limited[edit]

In 1873, the Bombay Tramway Company Limited was given the licence to operate trams in the city.
The Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) was given the right to purchase the company after first
twenty years or after every seven years thereafter.[6] In 1874, the Bombay Tramways Act was
enacted after the contract was formally signed between the municipality and the company to start
such a tramway service. On 9 May 1874, the company started with horse-drawn tram of two kinds
on road those drawn by one horse and those drawn by two. Service was introduced on two
routes: Colaba to Pydhoni via Crawford Market and Bori Bunder to Pydhoni, via Kalbadevi with a
fleet of 20 cars and 200 horses.

The municipality could have taken over the company in 1894 as stipulated by the contract, but it
waived the right and the Bombay Tramway Company Limited was given extension till 1901. In 1899,
the company applied to run its tram-cars on electricity. It also filed a plea that, considering heavy
expenditure the company will occur, the municipality should waive its right of taking it over in 1901.
Even before the application was disposed of, the municipality decided to exercise its right to take
over the company. In 1905, theBombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (B.E.S. & T
Co. Ltd.) bought the Bombay Tramway Company Limited.[7] Because it was an unfamiliar vehicle and
high fare, the tram-car was not at first received with the enthusiasm shown for the railway. The
company brought down the fare and made special effort to persuade the public that tram was cheap,
fast and smooth. When it closed down in 1905, it had as many as 1,360 horses. [6]

Formation of the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company


Mumbai first electric tram car began operations in 1907.

In 1905, a newly formed concern the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company
Limited (B.E.S. & T Co.Ltd) bought the Bombay Tramway Company Limited [6] and the
first electrically operated tram-car appeared on Mumbais roads in 1907.[7] B.E.S.T. Company Limited
had been established in England under the Companies Act. Its registered office was in London and
its Board of Management met there. As a result, the company had to pay income-tax to the British
Exchequer on the profits it earned in India. As it was registered in Mumbai, it had to pay a similar tax
in India. To avoid double taxation the Board of Directors closed the company in London. Establishing
a new company in Bombay, the companys capital in pound sterling was converted to corresponding
value in rupees.[7]
Electric tram[edit]
B.E.S. & T Co. Ltd. placed an order for the city's first electric tram-car with the Brush Electrical
Company of London. The vehicle arrived in Mumbai in January 1906. The service was formally
inaugurated on 7 May 1907 by the Chairman of the Municipality. The inaugural service ran
between Municipal Office building and Crawford Market. Regular services started from next day.
Unlike the horse-drawn tram, the electric tram drew praise from public for its comfort and low fare.


The upper class in the tram-cars was removed after some time. By 1910 the company faced rush

hour traffic during office hours and there were not enough trams to cope with the office-goers. The
company asked for permission to run a triple car and allow standees; the first was reject and later
discontinued in 1914.[6]

Double-decker electric trams were introduced in September 1920 to ease rush hour traffic.

To handle rush-hour traffic double-decker trams were introduced on Mumbais roads in September

Introduction of motor bus[edit]

The city's first bus started operations in 1926.

In 1913 there was debate in the Mumbai municipality whether to introduce trolley buses or motor
buses to supplement the tramway service in the city. The main factor against its introduction was the
high accident rate for a similar service in London. On 10 February 1926, the B.E.S.& T. Company
(Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited) introduced three routes on experimental
basis. On 15 July 1926, 24 single-deck buses started operating on three routes Afghan Church to
the Crawford Market, Dadar Tram Terminus to Kings Circle, via Parsi Colony, and Opera House to
Lalbag via Lamington Road and Arthur Road. Despite stiff opposition and protests by taxi-drivers,
the service ran without a hitch, transporting six lakh (600,000) passengers by the end of that year.
The following year the number had increased to 3.8 million. The trams meanwhile, because of their
lower fares, were relegated to being a poor man's transport. By 1927 B.E.S.T. Company had a fleet
of 49 buses.[8]

In March 1930 concessional rates were introduced on short journeys, which attracted more
passengers. Car owners quickly embraced the cheap public transport. In response to the pleas
made by the government and the Bombay Municipal Corporation, the company extended its services
to the northern part of the city in 1934. In 1937 double-decker buses were introduced to cope better
with the growing traffic. The single-deck vehicle carried 36 passengers; the double-decker could take
as many as 58. The first limited bus service in Mumbai, and probably the first in the country as well,
started running in 1940 between Colaba and Mahim. [9]

Formation of BEST undertaking[edit]

One of the terms of the agreement of 7 August 1905 between the Bombay Municipal
Corporation and the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (B.E.S.&T. Company)
gave the Bombay Municipality the right to buy the company at the end of forty-two years. It was also
laid down that if the right was exercised on 7 August 1947, the municipality would have to pay forty
lakh rupees as goodwill, in addition to the agreed price of the companys assets. The right to buy the
B.E.S.T. Company did not cover its bus service, which had been granted a permit by the
commissioner of police under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, the act did not stop
the Bombay Municipal Corporation from starting its own bus service.
The municipality discussed the matter with government at Pune. The government had been
contemplating taking over all the road transport in the state. The Mumbai bus transport was not an
exception unless it was acquired by the Municipal Corporation. On 21 October 1946, the Municipal
Corporation decided to buy the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company with its bus transport
On 18 April 1947, the general manager of the B.E.S.T. Company offered to sell the B.E.S.T.
Company along with its bus transport section to the Corporation but required an amount equal to
twenty per cent of the value of the bus transport section be paid to the Company as goodwill. But
this demand was rejected in view of the Governments policy of nationalising transport. However, the
payment of goodwill was accepted in principle. The Corporation acquired the B.E.S.T. Company total
assets for 6,35,00,000.
On 7 August 1947, the Municipal Corporation took over the B.E.S.&T. Company Ltd and it was
municipalised to form the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertakingwhich was again
renamed to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (B.E.S.&T Undertaking) in
1995.[10] BEST celebrates 7 August annually as "BEST Day".
Post-independence, BEST increased its fleet from 242 to 582 buses over the next decade. In 1949,
it took over the Bandra Bus Company, which used to ply buses in the Western suburbs. [1] The

company launched its services in the eastern suburbs in January 1955. The eastern suburbs was
serviced by private bus operators. That year, the Undertaking and private operators went to court,
with the BEST asking for a complete closure of the private companies. The case dragged on for four
years before the Supreme Court of India granted the organization a complete monopoly over bus
services in the Greater Bombay area.[1]
In 1955, bus services extended to Eastern Suburbs and Luxury Coach services introduced. [1]
The tramway system had been running at a loss when the Undertaking took it over. The losses kept
on mounting year after year. In 1953, it started closing down the uneconomic routes due to high
operational costs and poor public support. In 1964 BEST's long-running tram services terminated. [5]


BEST ferry in Manori Creek

A Vestibule BEST bus. BEST no longer uses buses of this kind

The BEST bus routes are spread citywide and to neighboring cities. The BEST operates inter-city
services to three areas beyond the municipal limits of Mumbai city, i.e., into the limits of the
bordering corporations of Navi Mumbai, Thane & Mira - Bhayander. The BEST supplements
suburban rails, which is the mass carrier on Mumbai region. It is for this reason that BEST always
gives priority for feeder routes over other routes. The BEST uses CNG and diesel powered buses for
its operation.

Majority of BEST bus consist of ordinary route. Limited bus services which skips minor stops is used
on long routes, high-capacity routes and routes that provides connectivity beyond Mumbai city. The
buses have "Ltd" appended to routes number. 5xx Ltd numbered buses connect Navi Mumbai with
Mumbai. Some buses like 503Ltd and 504Ltd go beyond Navi Mumbai region to Kharghar and
Kalamboli area. Buses number 4xx mostly serve Thane and provide connection to greater Mumbai
and buses numbered 7xx Ltd serve Mira - Bhayander region.
As of 2011, the BEST runs a total of 4,680 buses,[2][11] ferrying 4.8 million passengers[12] over 365
routes, and has a workforce strength of 38,000, which includes 22,000 bus drivers and conductors
(this comes to an average of 11.2 employees per bus).
Besides buses, BEST operates a ferry service since 1981 in northern Mumbai, across the Manori
Creek. The barges operate at regular intervals across the shallow creek linking Manori to Marve.[13]
The BEST bus service has suffered two bombings on 6 December 2002 and 28 July 2003 killing six
people. In August 2006, BEST introduced pay phone system and CCTVs on its buses. [14] This was
done in response to terror attacks on the citys buses and trains.

Bus routes[edit]
The routes operated by the BEST can be broadly classified in the following categories.

Feeder Routes: These routes which feed the railway stations either from the residential
complexes or business districts.

East-west connectors: These are the routes, which run east/west, where railways have no
role to play and connect the western suburb with the eastern suburb.

Trunk routes: These routes run south-north through the city and are almost parallel to the

AS routes: These route runs on western and eastern express highways, to provide faster
services to the commuters.

AIRPORT routes: These are express routes run from Mumbai CSI Airport to various

The above routes are further classified into types depending on the number of stops the bus takes
and type of bus used. Ordinary buses service the Mumbai area and limited bus services are mostly
cater to neighboring region of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayander.[citation needed]


A BEST Restaurant bus that serves snacks and tea parked in Fort

The BEST have several options to pay the fares for the bus.

Single journey (paper ticket issued by the bus conductor).

"Daily travel as you like" pass (issued for a day).

Bus pass (Go Mumbai Smart Card).

Prepaid RFID Smart Card.

The fares vary depending on the type. Paper tickets are valid only for single journey. Commuters
have the option to buy daily pass, distance-wise bus pass values and zonal pass. Students are
eligible for discounts on monthly and quarterly passes and senior citizens for discounts on weekly,
fortnightly, monthly and quarterly passes.[15]

Single Journey Fares[edit]

Single Journey Fares are valid only for single trip between any two points. They are issued on paper
ticket by the bus conductor. All fare payments must be made in cash. The fare depends on distance
of the destination. Single Journey fare are not valid for transfers. Ordinary and Limited bus service
have same fares.

Go Mumbai Smart Card[edit]

On 2 January 2007, BEST launched multi-application smart card called Go Mumbai. Go Mumbai
card can be used for storing season tickets, single journey and extension tickets. [16] The fares using
bus pass can be paid only by Go Mumbai Smart Card. The Go Mumbai Smart Card was

subsequently made valid for travel on Mumbai Suburban Railway (Central, Western, and Harbour
lines).[17] The passes fall into two categories Distance wise and Zonal. [15]
Distance-wise bus pass values[edit]
Distance bus value pass are valid only between two destinations (on km basis) on ordinary and
limited bus service. Unlimited rides and transfer are available between opted destination except for
single rides. The bus passes are valid for travel between any two destinations up to a distance of
maximum 15 km.
Prepaid RFID Smart Card[edit]
BEST began offering prepaid RFID Smart Cards in August 2012. [18]

Zonal Pass[edit]
Zonal passes can be purchased according to the service type. Except for city limit and suburban limit
pass, passes are valid for the entire BEST bus operational area. [15]

Depot and fleet[edit]

The notation written in Marathi on the front left corner of this bus indicates that the bus belongs to the Wadala Depot,
and is No. 1046.

The BEST uses CNG and conventional diesel buses. As of March 2013, the BEST runs 4,336 buses.

The fleet comprises single-decker diesel buses (1237), CNG buses (2694), double-decker buses

(122) and JCBL Cerita A/C buses (282). All are tagged with a route number and its corresponding
destination. They are displayed in the front in Marathi and on the side in English. [19]
Until the B.E.S.T. company was taken over by the municipality, only the Colaba depot was available
for the maintenance of buses and minor repairs. As the fleet grew, the need for more depots was felt.
In 1961 the fleet comprised 1045 buses. Six new depots were constructed for their maintenance.

The Wadala depot was equipped for the maintenance of 300 buses. At this time it was the largest
depot in Asia. After this, taking long maintenance experience into account, the authorities decided
that no depot should be called on to look after more than 125 to 150 buses. Accordingly, small
depots were built at convenient spots in the city and its suburbs.
In June 2005, in order to cut costs, BEST decided to hire buses from private operators instead of
procuring new buses. These buses would look the same as a regular bus, but the maintenance and
salaries would be taken care of by the private operators. But, till 2013, no buses have been hired by
them.[20] The BEST plans to install GPS systems on its buses, to monitor them in realtime. BEST
entered into a barter deal with M/s Amnet in 2007 to install three CCTVs in each bus. Amnet also
received the rights to advertise in the buses using two LCD screens. [21]
To keep this bus fleet roadworthy, a two-tier system of maintenance is followed by Transportation
Engineering Department. A workshop located centrally at Dadar acts as one work centre. Dadar
workshop has a built up area of 27,170 square meters. All unit overhauling, repairing of body
damages, tyre cut repairs, plant and equipment installation and repairs, reclamation activities are
carried out in the workshop.
Every depot is another work center, which provides bus services effectively on every day, carries out
preventive maintenance as well as repairs on buses. Depots carry out maintenance practices such
as preventive maintenance, unit replacement, RTO passing, body damage repairs of buses. BEST
buses are operated out of the 25 bus depot located in four zones viz. City, Central, Western, Eastern
& Suburban zones.[22][23]

Bus tracking and next stop information[edit]

A GPS system is installed on all AC buses. By March 2013, new Wrights and Citaros are expected to
be trackable (including existing Wright Eclipse Gemini VLW17 - VLW21). LCD screens installed in
buses will display the name of the next stop. The GPS system will be used to track buses and divert
them in an emergency.

BEST Transport Museum[edit]

A BEST vehicle used for driver tests

The BEST Transport Museum is at Anik Bus depot at Wadala near IMAX theater. The museum was
founded by P D Paranjape, a BEST officer who religiously collected bus tickets, engines, ticketissuing machines from depots across the city. The museum was set up in 1984 at BESTs Kurla
depot and was shifted to Anik depot in 1993.[24] The museum traces the evolution of BEST. It houses
mini models of charming old BEST buses and ancient trams. Hand-written placards in Marathi and
photographs are on display for public. Entry to the museum is free. [25]

The company is headed by a general manager, currently O.P.Gupta. The traffic department is
overseen by an 'assistant general manager (Transportation Engineering)', Shri S.M.Karlekar. It has
five zones; each zone consists of five to six depots, whose operations are overseen by an 'assistant
general manager (Transportation Engineering)'. The city is divided into 25 depots headed by depot
managers. The traffic officers, assistant traffic officers and senior assistant/office assistant assist the
depot managers.
The bus running control (BRC) officer mans the Traffic Control Room, round the clock. The section
has a VHF set and hot lines connecting all the depots and police control, traffic police control,
railways, etc.[26]