The B.E.S.T. of Mumbai

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The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport or more commonly referred to as B.E.S.T. Buses, have for more than a century been an integral part of the Commercial city of Bombay.

As Bombay has expanded, re-invented itself as Mumbai, the BEST bus services have never been far away. With near about 5000 buses in its fleet, it strives hard to get Mumbai moving, act as a feeder to Mumbai Suburban Rails and provide an economical source to travel for Mumbaikars.

The history of this undertaking is no less charming. Starting off with trams on Mumbai’s then arterial roads, it received rave reviews, much better when it introduced Double Decker trams! In Bombay, nearly 80 years ago. Unfortunately, these came with an expiry date – eventually being replaced by regular motorized vehicles. But these did not stop the corporation from experimenting.The motion pictures industry has also jumped on this bandwagon, with many a memorable scene, commercial advertisements, backdrops all incorporating the B.E.S.T. Buses.The buses of Mumbai came in all shapes and sizes, with different credentials, a few even converting themselves into red restaurants on wheels, yellow trailer buses, blue open top tourist vehicles & grey tree trimming vehicles during monsoons.

Often with a restricted carrying capacity – ranging from 24 passengers to 84 passengers, these red jumbos, did not mind carrying nearly 2 times their peak capacity to get tired souls home after a laborious day of work. The drivers happily blaring their horns still create a road for themselves, the conductors happily punch away tickets for travelers (although now replaced by printed rolls!) with many of these routes operational 24 x 7.

Routes like 123 – the one that romanced the entire stretch of Marine Drive, would often get the newest rolling stocks – for the sheer novelty it provided. The front seats on the upper deck were some of the most fought for seats, till date in Mumbai; specially during monsoons. Then there are routes like 332 & 340 – operating on some of the most congested & via the most populous areas of Mumbai, buses visible every couple of minutes. A bus you never regretted missing but cursing at the same for not finding a seat on the next one. Yet more routes, 523, 84, 496, 180 all running across the length and breadth of the city made one wait for minutes on end for the next one, should one miss their regular connection.

Yet these gentle giants carry about 50 lakh riders, moving nearly about half the city of Mumbai, daily!

So empty would the city be without the best of the B.E.S.T of Mumbai.