The BEST will present its budget estimates for the next financial year on Tuesday. The loss-making transport body, which also supplies electricity to 10 lakh consumers in island city, has taken up several measures to ensure that it comes out of the red.
It has been incurring huge losses over the past ten years. "But recently the bus tickets were hiked between 30 and 50 %. The power tariff was also increased subsequently. We expect to break even in one to two years," a senior BEST official said.
The new budget estimates will be presented at the committee meeting at Electric House in Colaba on Tuesday morning and the panel members from ruling Shiv Sena , BJP and the opposition parties such as Congress will take part in budget discussions during the last week of October.
The budget will then be presented before the House in BMC for approval. Sources said that the BEST has cut down on costs and explored new avenues to make more profits for the undertaking. It also plans to gradually phase out the present AC Cerita buses and replace them with Volvos in near future.
"The existing AC buses are a huge liability for the transport undertaking and we have spent lakhs of rupees maintaining them. If we phase them out and bring in brand new buses, we will save crores in the next few years,"l said MNS committee member Kedar Hombalkar. He also suggested that BEST can cut down on expenditure at the headquarters in Electric House, reduce office space and lease out to private firms to earn more revenue.
"In case of advertising on our buses, why do we give the contract to a private firm? We can ourselves sell the space and earn huge revenue," he added. Congress committee member Ravi Raja said, "We need to keep a check on power thefts and electricity distribution losses." Another committee member said that the undertaking can save money spent on lighting the depots by switching to power saving devices.