BEST wants to lease AC buses to corporates

In a bid to optimise usage of its air-conditioned (AC) fleet and increase ancillary revenue, the cash-strapped Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking is considering leasing some of its AC buses to corporate houses in the city.

The BEST's AC services in Mumbai are under-utilised and run up huge losses for the public undertaking. The agency is in the process of restructuring its AC services and recently made major changes to nine of its bus routes.

"BEST is ready to lease out some AC buses to corporate houses. If there is demand, we can increase the number of buses to be leased out. It would be a good source of revenue. However, no company has approached us yet," said general manager O P Gupta. "The administration is planning to bring up a proposal for maximising the use of AC buses in the next BEST committee meeting," he added.

At present, the BEST has nearly 270 AC buses, while another 20 have been plying on the airport tarmac for two airlines for the past three years, bringing in significant revenue. One of the two airlines recently terminated the contract with the BEST for the buses.

The BEST had entered into an agreement with Air India in 2009 and a year later with Cambata Aviation Pvt Ltd (Jet Airways) in 2010 to rent out eight and 12 AC buses respectively to ferry passengers from the boarding gate to the aircraft. The BEST was earning a revenue of Rs 2.28 lakh, including fuel cost, per bus per month from the rental deals.

While Cambata Aviation scrapped the contract as its airplanes have got access to aero-bridges, Air India asked for a renewal of the contract in December for a period of six months for 12 buses. Accordingly, the BEST has from January rented out 12 buses to the airline at a cost of Rs 1.68 lakh, excluding fuel expenses, per bus per month.

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