Monday, August 27, 2012

Best Public Transport: BEST Buses

Bright red coloured, big wheels and sometimes many posters, that’s what comes to my mind first when I think  about BEST bus. The parent company of these buses is Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST Undertaking). It is another public transport other than Mumbai’s “lifeline” local trains while covers entire city. It also caters to people living in Thane, and Navi Mumbai. Two other municipalities have their own public service named Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT). Initially, BEST Undertaking has started as an electric supply company which later extended in transport, starting Bus and Tram services. In 1964 BEST’s tram services came to an end.

Origin of BEST buses:
Idea of public transport was first given by an American company in 1865 but due to low economy in the city at that time the project never got a start.
Then in 1873, the Bombay Tramway Company Limited was given the licence to operate trams in the city. Later, in 1905, the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (B.E.S. & T Co. Ltd) bought the company. It introduced first electrically operated trams in May 1907 in Mumbai.
In addition to tram service, Mumbai Municipality decided to introduce either trolley buses or motor buses in 1913. In February 1926, the B.E.S. &T Company decided to introduce three routes on experimental basis which received a great interest by public. By 1927 B.E.S.T. Company had a fleet of 49 buses. Double-decker buses were introduced to cope up with the traffic in 1937. The first Limited bus service in Mumbai, started running in 1940 between Colaba and Mahim. BEST has started Air-Conditioned bus service too. On August 18, 2005, BEST introduced the first disabled-friendly buses (five buses with special wheel chair-accessible low floors).
The B.E.S. &T. Company Ltd was taken over by Municipal Corporation in August 1947 and its named was changed to Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. In 1995, it was again changed to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (B.E.S. &T Undertaking).

Interesting facts to know about BEST buses:
  • In 2011, the BEST runs a total of 4,680 buses,  carrying 4.8 million passengers over 365 routes, and has a workers strength of 38,000, which includes 22,000 bus drivers and conductors.
  • The single-deck bus can carry 36 passengers sitting and 22 passengers standing while the double-decker could take as many as 58 sitting.
  • BEST also operates a ferry service since 1981 in northern Mumbai, across the Manori Creek.
  • We know that there are Ordinary buses and then there are Limited buses. But very few know the difference between them. Limited buses skip minor stops and are used on Long routes. These buses provide connectivity beyond Mumbai city.
  • The BEST currently uses 1500+ environment friendly Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and Diesel powered Single and Double decker buses.
  • Almost all buses have LCD TV’s per bus.
  • In February 2011, Mumbai’s first air-conditioned bus stand was inaugurated at Dadar which caters to over 14,000 passengers per day.
  • After three bomb blasts in and near buses (December 2002, July 2003 and July 2011) BEST has installed an audio-visual surveillance system on its buses to monitor suspicious behaviour. They also have awareness message in buses saying instead of watching outside the window, check for suspicious bag or a person.
  • BEST buses are operated out of the 25 bus depot located in four zones- City, Central, Western, Eastern suburban zones. These depots carry various maintenance practices for buses.
  • One of the most amazing facts which very few people know it that the BEST has their own Bus Museum. Yes, you read it write. Bus Museum. It is located at Anik Bus Depot in Wadala near IMAX theatre. The museum was set up in 1984 at BEST’s Kurla depot. Later, it was shifted to Anik depot in 1993. The museum shows the evolution of BEST. It has mini models of old BEST buses and ancient trams. Entry to the museum is free.
BEST has several options to pay fare:
  • Single journey ticket in which Conductor issue a paper ticket.
  • Daily pass which can be used for a whole in any Ordinary or Limited bus. Earlier the cost this pass was Rs. 15, which changed to Rs. 25/-. And within a short span it increased to Rs. 40/-, that too you should have a special Identity card provided by BEST.
  • Monthly and Quarterly distance-wise bus pass which is mostly used by school going kids.
  • Monthly and Quarterly unlimited bus passes. Their prices have also increased immensely.
It is said that if you are traveling in train at peak hours and you maintain your patience, your clothes are not torn and you safely reach your destination, you have won a war. Same concept applies on buses, including another factor of not harassed by people.

A regular bus commuter Swadesh Kumar Pathak says, “Even though most Mumbaikars prefer local trains to commute, buses also cater to a large group. They are bit time consuming due to heavy traffic in city and sometimes are roller-coaster rides, thanks to pot holes, but to a large extent comfortable rides.”

Since I am too is the regular bus commuter I totally agree with him. Bus ride is roller-coaster but memorable one. One should at least travel once for the lifetime experience.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

We and the Technology

“This is the era of technology”. You must have heard this thousand’s time by many. But questions which always comes to my mind is- are they boon or a curse for humankind? Are we too dependent on these technologies? Do we feel incomplete without them?

Unfortunately, the answer to the questions is Yes. We have become so dependent on the technology that living without it is like living without air.

Technology Evolution

Can you imagine your life without a cell-phone? Most of us will answer No, because we have become so dependent on it. If we are not on call then either we are busy in texting or engrossed in some other application of it. If you are getting bored, listen to songs in your phone; want to play games it’s there in your phone, even if you want to go somewhere ask the address to your phone. Why? Are the people around you, are dead or else you are blind that you cannot see anyone or anything except your phone and other gadgets.

I understand that the phone is a necessity but that doesn’t mean we have to keep checking it in every two-minutes, so that we don’t miss anything. We have forgotten to catch up with family, friends and neighbours. However, if we do so it’s a virtual reality, thanks to the Facebook and Skype. We are so used to the technology that most of our work is related to it. In fact nowadays, if you want to shop, just few clicks and the required things are delivered at your place. Today we cannot write something without a 'spells check’. This is insane.

Technology and today's generation

Technology has made us lethargic, weak, obese and what not. There is no physical or mental activity to be done. Want to calculate something, get calculator. Want to shop, order online. We are so much attached to our seats and don’t want to leave our comfort zones. I agree technology gives us an inspiration to creative new ideas, motivates us to invent new things, but today I can’t find single kid not using a cell-phone or a laptop. Is this the way we want to up bring our next generations; obsessed with gadgets?

One of the most important technologies that are discovered is Electricity. It is a boon to us. We won’t be able to do anything, practically any single thing, without it. Our all devices be it computer, television, microwave, washing machine or anything, it works on it.

Imagine one day there is no electricity for a day, what will you do? How will you survive? Horrific, isn’t it? But honestly, it is not so difficult. There are so many things we can do. Meet and talk to your friends and family without computer screens in front of you, go for a walk, enjoy the beauty of nature, get wet in the Mumbai monsoon. There are so many things to do instead of becoming a slave of the technology.

Call is your, want to become a master of the technology or a slave.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


A: Hey look, Ronie is coming?
B: Ronie! Oh, he’s a gay!
X: Kya baat hai bhai aajkal tu Jeet ke saath bada dikh raha hai?
Y: Yaar, dost hai mera.
X: Dost hai ya….? Waise bhi Act 377 lagu ho gaya hai. Ab toh legal hai ye sab.
Today we can see many such examples where, “being gay or lesbian” has become someone’s identity. Most people don’t even know what is the Act 377 all about? What does the law say? What is written in it? When and where it is applicable or why?
Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor abnormality nor immorality. It is just the way few of us wish to express our love and sexuality. But homosexuality is considered crime from the time 1860s when we were still under the control of British rule. According to the law, Indian Penal Code (IPC) Chapter XVI, Section 377, punishes “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” Violations are punishable by a prison term up to 10 years and possible fines.It was criminalized because it was “against the order of nature”.
But on July 2, 2009, the New Delhi High Court overturned the 152-years-old law section, a bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar, changed Section 377 and decriminalized consensual sex between LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender) adults. They said that if this law is not modified, section 377 of the IPC would violate Article 14 of the Indian constitution, which states that every citizen has equal opportunity of life and is equal before law. However Section 377 continues to apply in the case of sex involving minors and forced sex.
In today’s world, people believe that they are so-called modern but when the actual time comes to prove their “modernity” they back out. It very much applies on accepting gays and lesbians in the society. Everyone has their own version of modernity. Different people have different opinions about LGBT community. Some believes that it is highly offensive. The act is ‘against the nature’ and the gays are criminals. Others are accepting them but they are very few. Some also believes that peoples’ opinion does not change just because the law has changed, which is very true. Also, some others believe that legalizing such relationships will make the society impure and increase the problems of HIV/AIDS.
However the one thing that has changed with this new improvisation is that, people have been open about their sexuality for the first time in families and in workspaces.
One of my friends whom I talked about this whole issue said “Now I am more comfortable to confess that I am a gay. Although there is still no good social acceptance for people like us, the good part is that we are no longer criminals under the law.”
I believe that for LGBT community it is very important that they first accept themselves. They should believe in themselves, and then only they can be confident enough to confess others about their feelings. And this act has somewhat helped them to overcome the family and societal fear. Even though the situation is not so good but now they are not charged under some crime and they can fight without their hands being tied with law.
I think it’s the high time we should start accepting the change in this law. Also, respect individual’s privacy. When there is a change in society time to time, why can’t there be change in the laws which are formed so many decades ago and are enforced on us even today, even if it doesn’t make sense in today’s world.