In the bustling urban expanse of Mumbai, on the 29th of August, it has come to the forefront that the civic-operated Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has traversed the intricate corridors of bureaucracy without obtaining the necessary endorsement from the transport authority for the color scheme of its innovative double-decker electric buses as well as the enigmatic deep blue premium buses, as conveyed by authoritative sources.
The endorsement of the State Transport Authority (STA), an entity led by the esteemed transport secretary of the Maharashtra government, is unequivocally obligatory whenever a new archetype of a public transit bus—entitled to the stage carriage permit—makes its debut within the urban landscape.
Clarifying the specifics, the knowledgeable echelons of the BEST establishment articulated that they have procured approximately 30 instances of the double-decker e-buses from the stables of Switch Mobility, a subsidiary operating under the banner of Ashok Leyland. This diverse fleet is further enhanced with an abundance of over 60 solitary deep blue buses, thereby enriching the spectrum of mobility options.
In a recent revelation, it has also emerged that the Tardeo Regional Transport Office (RTO) situated in Mumbai, along with its counterpart in Navi Mumbai, the Vashi RTO, has officially cataloged an approximate tally of two dozen double-decker e-buses under the classification of “signal red,” although, upon closer visual scrutiny, they don a visually striking combination of hues that include shades of crimson and ebony.
A vigilant official within the transport domain remarked that despite the introduction of the nascent double-decker e-bus cohort in the preceding February and the subsequent operation of the deluxe autobuses even earlier, the proactive step of seeking STA’s endorsement for the validation of their color schemes remains a gap within BEST’s procedural framework.
Jitendra Patil, the concurrently designated additional transport commissioner and secretary of the STA, confirmed in correspondence with PTI that the echelons of the authority have not been privy to any request presented by BEST, seeking their coveted endorsement, over the course of the preceding year.
According to the musings of functionaries within the transport domain, it transpires that the STA’s approval is an essential requirement for the definition of the color scheme adorning the exteriors of public transit buses. This requirement is rooted in the necessity that such vehicular envoys should be conspicuously discernible even from a considerable distance.
Contrary to this perspective, a spokesperson acting as the official voice for BEST offered an alternative view. He emphasized that the responsibility for RTO registration lies squarely on the shoulders of private bus operators who have, through contractual agreements, engaged in the practice of wet leasing these vehicular fleets.
“The responsibility for RTO registration rests with the bus proprietor,” the spokesperson opined. He added that the certificate of type approval issued by an accredited evaluation body, a prerequisite for securing the RTO clearance, remains conspicuously devoid of any reference to the color palette.
Conversely, a venerable official ensconced within the transport hierarchy argued that the solemn duty to secure STA’s approval for the color scheme embellishing these emerging buses is unequivocally vested in BEST. This responsibility, the official posited, is grounded in the principle that the stage carriage permit is a document of sanctity bestowed exclusively upon the public transit establishment, rather than its subcontractors.
In the interim, it has been communicated that the esteemed state transport commissioner has mobilized his resources with the intent of soliciting a comprehensive dossier from the RTOs that, due to an inadvertent clerical error, designated the double-decker e-buses under the label of “signal red,” despite their actual resplendent divergence from this nomenclature. Elaborating on the prospective course of action, Vivek Bhimanwar, the transport commissioner, affirmed that based on the insights derived from the dossier, a sequence of punitive measures will be set in motion against those found responsible.
Facilitating the daily transit of more than 3,000 vehicular chariots, the esteemed BEST Undertaking—a subsidiary embedded within the framework of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation—serves the commuting needs of over 30 lakh denizens across the expansive urban tapestry, encompassing Mumbai and its adjoining environs, including Thane, Navi Mumbai, and Mira-Bhayander.