The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) has gone ahead with a makeover for its Cerita fleet (popularly known as 'King Long'). The Cerita fleet had its own set of issues of the problematic air-conditioner, the civic body has now given the fleet a makeover by converting it into a non-air conditioned fleet and thereby giving it a better overall life.
The Cerita buses were bought back in 2007-08 for Rs 63 lakh each, BEST though found later that the fleet had issues of non-functional AC, frequent breakdown and heavy maintenance which made BEST to bleed losses.
Dr. Jagdish Patil, general manager of BEST said that in the 5-6 years of Cerita life they have scrapped nearly 1,000 buses with no addition of these buses. This led to issues in their operations as there were lesser buses to provide transport for the public.
BEST has converted five of these buses not just removing the AC post which it will study the performance and financial aspect before deciding if the entire fleet can take the same route.
Out of the 284 Cerita buses from BEST, two have been converted and third is on the way while the remaining two will go through the process later this month.
Currently, BEST manages a fleet of 3,888 buses, this includes 120 double decker and 284 Cerita buses. Recently, BEST has ordered 303 single deck buses with Tata Motors to add to its fleet.
BEST will receive 180 of the Tata buses by this financial year as it is paying Rs 90 crore and if the civic body gives the go ahead next year than another 120 will be bought. Each of the Tata buses will cost Rs 53 lakh and has a life of 15 years.
As for the Cerita buses, the civic body is spending between Rs 8 - 10 lakh which includes replacing the body along with interiors and seats in their own facility.
The Cerita buses were initially sent for buyout and invited private players to buy them; however, there was no response. By leaving the buses it would have been sent to a scrapyard, this prompted BEST to rather give it a makeover.