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PATH Article - Simple ways to make BEST services better

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    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2014
      URL: www.dnaindia.com/analysis/comment-simple-ways-to-make-best-services-better-1788661

      Simple ways to make BEST services better

      Late evening on the previous Sunday, I jumped into a Ghatkopar-bound BEST bus
      that was about to speed away from the Majas depot bus stop on the
      Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road.

      Late evening on the previous Sunday, I jumped into a Ghatkopar-bound BEST bus
      that was about to speed away from the Majas depot bus stop on the
      Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. The front board displayed the route number and
      destination in Marathi. By the time I finished grasping the info in Hindi on
      the side display, I almost missed the bus.

      The route’s destination was Barve Nagar. Mine was Chembur. I asked the
      conductor where I needed to alight. He didn’t have a clue. He didn’t even
      know where exactly – east or west of Ghatkopar railway station? – Barve
      Nagar is located, nor the route details in a geographic sense.

      Try Asalpha, he said. That just didn’t seem right. He issued me a Rs 15
      ticket, valid till Barve Nagar. On that cold night, as the monster bus made
      short work of the bumpy, dusty, foul-smelling Mahakali Caves Road in Andheri
      East, the conductor came up to me suddenly, and advised me to alight at a
      spot that he said was near the Ghatkopar railway station, since the bus was
      now heading off into interior Ghatkopar.

      There, it appeared unlikely that I’d get another bus home. So I hired a
      rickshaw. It’s a paradox that city bus travel is a nightmare in 21st
      century Mumbai even as the metro aspires to be a global financial hub.

      Here are a few things that both BEST and the PWD can do to make it
      passenger-  tourist-friendly.

      To start with:  Study city bus systems in Singapore, London, New York and
      Shanghai. Set and maintain benchmarks for Mumbai’s bus services. It’s
      good that BEST has graduated from mechanical ticket-punching devices to
      electronic ticket dispensers used by conductors. Now, it should help
      introduce prepaid electronic cards (like Ezlink in Singapore and Oyster in
      London) that can be topped up in a variety of ways (including online) and at
      various locations (malls, banks, transport hubs, cinemas, and so on). The
      e-ticket can double up as a prepaid cash card acceptable in suburban trains,
      city buses, rickshaws, taxis and even for other services (restaurants,
      shopping, cinemas).

      At the bus stops

      Install electronic LED boards with route maps that can display information in
      multiple languages sequentially for each service, the routes/services in
      operation at that bus stop, timings and frequency of each service, when the
      next five services are expected on each route. Another board should offer
      value-added information like how to reach prominent landmarks and areas from
      that particular bus stop.

      Introduce a BEST telephone helpline whose number should be displayed
      prominently at the bus stop (which should have its own identity number as
      well). Passengers can text the bus stop ID to the helpline and receive on
      their mobiles real-time information on the next bus and delays if any.

      Bus exteriors

      Install electronic LED boards on the front, the passenger-facing side and the
      back to display information (route number, destination, main stops on the
      route) in Hindi, Marathi and English sequentially. Use visible and easily
      readable colours and fonts.

      Bus interiors

      Near the entrance, stock take-away maps in three languages with details of
      the route, journey duration and so on.

      Install LED boards at key spots indicating the service route, origin and
      destination, current location, the next stop highlighted in bold. Complement
      them with audio announcements on built-in speakers and text on mobile TV
      screens, wherever possible.


      All these measures are technologically possible, and can even generate
      revenues by way of sponsors and advertisements, so the initial cost ought not
      to be a concern. For a city of Mumbai’s size and population, and for a
      service organisation such as BEST, that’s the way forward in the 21st
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