Bus Route Tracking System






Luggage fare will be equivalent to the corresponding Adult fares subject to the minimum luggage fare of Rs.4.00 and maximum luggage of Rs.15.00.


2) BLIND PERSONS :-  A flat fare of Rs. 1/- to totally blind persons, irrespective of the distance travelled.



The Nutrition surcharge is 10 paise on tickets up to Rs.2/- and 15 paise on tickets above Rs. 2/-.


4) As per Govt Notification, Home Dept. No. MVA-689/CT-988/TRA-2 dated 1st September 1989 “Where the place of boarding the stage carriage or the place of alighting from the stage carriage is not a stage point approved by the Regional Transport Authority concerned, the distance travelled shall for the purpose of charging the fares, be calculated from the immediately preceding stage point so approved or as the case may be the immediately succeeding stage point so approved”.


Clarification : Fares are charged not on the basis of distance from one stop to another stop but from one stage stop to another stage stop


Electric Supply

It has been already indicated that the erstwhile Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company started supplying electricity to the city in 1905. Until 1926, the Company had been generating its own electricity for distribution to its consumers. Later, the Tata Electric Companies started supplying electricity to the BEST.The Tata Electric Companies (The Andhra Valley Power Supply Co. The Tata Power Supply Co., The Tata Hydroelectric Power Supply Co.) generated electricity from their reservoirs at Bhira, Bhivpuri and Khopoli in the Western Ghats. A major portion of it was transmitted through 110,000 Volts overhead lines to their Receiving Stations at Dharavi and Parel. In these Receiving Stations the voltage used to be transformed to 22,000 and 6,600 volts for ease of distribution. The Tata Electric Companies provided, through their cables, electricity at requisite voltage to the industries and mills, the Railways, the Bombay Suburban Electric Supply Company and the BEST.

In 1947, when the Company was taken over by the Municipal Corporation, the Undertaking was buying electricity from Tatas at nine receiving points known as : Kussara, Mahim, Kingsway, Jamnadas, Suparibag, Lalbaug, Esplanade, Palton and Backbay. At all these points, except Kussara, Kingsway and Mahim, the supply was received at 6,600 Volts. The supply was received at 22,000 Volts and transformed through Tatas’ transformers to 5,500 Volts at Kussara and to 6,600 Volts at Kingsway and Mahim. From these receiving points the cable network carried power to 247 Substations situated in different areas of the city. With the help of transformers at these substations, the voltage was further transformed to 400/230 Volts, suitable for use in the factory, shop and home. It was made available to the consumers through a low voltage distribution network and service cables to individual buildings. The major portion of electricity distributed was at Alternating Current (A.C.). But, in some areas of South Bombay, particularly Fort, Kalbadevi and Girgaum, Direct Current (D.C.) was supplied at a voltage of 460/230 Volts. To convert it into D.C., Rotary Converters were operated at Pathakwadi, Telwadi, Apollo and Palton Road Substations and Mercury Arc Rectifiers were used at Phirozshah Mehta Road substation.


Soon after the Corporation took over the Company, India got its freedom. This meant a reconsideration of the major objectives of the Undertaking and a reorientation of its outlook in the context of the changing political situation. The Second World War had also given a new impetus to the utilisation of electricity.

The Undertaking not only continued many of the healthy traditions set by the Company but also improved its methods of working. The Undertaking is now well known in India for its service of providing electricity with minimum interruptions and at proper voltage, at the minimum cost. It is also known for the quick restoration of supply in the event of any faults developing in the distribution system.

In the fifty years since municipalisation, the maximum demand on the system has risen from 53,000 kilowatts to 6,33,000 kilowatts; the number of substations from 247 to about 1733; the length of underground cables from 1,263 kilometres to 6,966 kilometres; the number of consumers from 1,08,000 to 7,98,152; the number of street lamps from 2,215 to 33,534.

Refrigerators, air-conditioners, geysers, television sets and other electrical appliances are now being extensively used in homes. The use of air-conditioning and better standards of lighting in the office is also becoming increasingly popular. In the factories and entertainment centres the use of electricity is on the increase. Skyscrapers have come into being and so have hutments. All this expansion has necessitated the use of modern and sophisticated equipment. The responsibilities of the electric supply branch of the Undertaking have become correspondingly greater and more complex.


In the days of the BEST Company some parts of the network were supplied at 5,500 Volts and in some other areas the distribution voltage was 6,600 Volts. This non-uniformity led to considerable loss of flexibility. More important, it was realised that at the higher voltage of 6,600 voltage, 20 per cent more electricity could be conveyed and this without major replacement of equipment. So, after elaborate planning, in 1954, the 5,500 Volts system was changed over to 6,600 Volts. This major change was carried out with no interruptions in the supply to consumers.

In 1949 the Undertaking established its first 22000 volts receiving station at Grant Road. This was followed by 22,000 volts receiving station at Apollo. In 1955, two more receiving stations at Kingsway and Kussara were changed over 22,000 volts and all 6600 volts metering points were eliminated. As on today BEST has 35 receiving stations including two 110 KV receiving stations. The demands on the system were growing and further changes were necessary. Under an Agreement with Tatas in  1956, they established a third Receiving Station at Carnac Bunder. This new station and the existing 2 stations at Parel and Dharavi, now became the Undertaking’s only points of supply. The supply was now taken at these 3 points and metered at 22,000 Volts. The Undertaking laid 22 KV cables from these points to it own receiving stations, the voltage was stepped down from 22,000 volts to 6,600 volts through the Undertaking’s own transformers for feeding into its 6,600 Volts system. The elimination of the old 6,600 Volts Receiving Stations was spread over a period of years. It was changed over to 22,000 Volts as and when new Receiving Stations were built by the B.E.S.T. Thus in 1956, the Worli Receiving Station was established at Fergusson Road. This was followed by many Receiving Stations at various places.

To supply electricity at a steady voltage is an important responsibility of the Supply Branch. There are considerable variations in the voltage received from Tatas at the different Receiving Stations. To compensate for these fluctuations, the Undertaking installed, on its 22 KV transformers, equipment known as “On load tap changers”. This device absorbs the fluctuations and enables supply of a steady voltage to consumers.


It has already been mentioned that Direct Current electricity was supplied to the Girgaum, Kalbadevi and Fort areas in South Bombay. An appreciable portion of the electricity distributed in 1947 was accounted for by this. An alternating Current supply had many advantages over supply at Direct Current. It is more convenient and cheaper to transmit electricity at Alternative Current through smaller cables at a higher voltage than through larger cables at a lower voltage.

In 1952, there were 25,000 consumers using D.C. A change-over to A.C. meant changing their D.C. appliances where rotation was involved : appliances such as motors, fans, lifts, refrigerators. This presented a major problem. It required a considerable amount of special effort to persuade the D.C. consumers. As an inducement, they were offered partial compensation towards the cost of changing their appliances. The total compensation paid under the scheme was Rs.50 lakhs. But the expenditure was well worthwhile, as it enabled elimination of costly and wasteful equipment used for conversion from A.C. to D.C. As a result of persistent efforts, all the 25,000 consumers, except a hard core of 17, had changed over to A.C., by March 1972.


The Municipal Corporation had a contract with the Bombay Gas Company for gas lamps for street lighting. This contract was to expire in 1962. Until then, there were about 7500 electric lamps and 7000 gas lamps on the roads of Mumbai. The Municipal Corporation then decided to change over completely to electric street lamps and simultaneously to improve the level of illumination. A crash programme was taken in hand by the B.E.S.T. in 1966. When all the gas street lamps had been converted into electric lamps in July 1968, the number of electric street lamps had increased from 7500 to 19000. On 1st July 1968, Bombay wished a sentimental farewell to gas lamps when the Mayor switched on the “Queen’s New Necklace” on Marine Drive. This was a string of the lastest type of high power, coloured-corrected, mercury vapour lamps. Marine Drive is reputed to be the best-lit road in India and one of the best-lit in the world. It is one of the spots a visitor to Mumbai does not like to miss. Now with the introduction of sodium vapour lamps, it is called as ‘Golden Necklace’.


Initially, the Undertaking used to control each lamp separately by a switch, by a man going on his rounds every evening and morning to switch them on and off. This system had several disadvantages, especially in times of emergency. To provide central control points, it would be necessary to lay hundreds of kilometre of cables at enormous cost and dig up Mumbai’s roads to lay them. Other methods had therefore to be devised. One method was to install time-switches which automatically control the street lights, depending on the time of sunrise and sunset, but the use of this device is also limited. Another method tried is that which uses photo-electric switches. These contain devices which are sensitive to light. When the natural light on the road falls to a particular level, this device actuates a switch which puts on the street lamp. When the natural light improves to a particular level, the device switches off the lamp.


A ripple control scheme for controlling street lamps from one or two central points in the city was then considered. The ripple control equipment is installed at predetermined places in the electric supply network. The equipment sends out high frequency signals over the existing underground cables. These signals are picked up by a special device installed on each lamp or a group of lamps. Thus by pressing a button at central control points one can either switch off or switch on all the street lights in the city. But this scheme was costly and involved import of much of the equipment.; hence it was decided not to consider the scheme.

At present there are over 33,000 street lighting poles and most of them are on automatic control. The automatic control of street lighting poles has got two versions. out of 93 Street Lighting Poles used for remote control for street light poles, 53 are provided with masters/slaves arrangement for efficient controlling Remaining SLP’s are provided with time switch which will switch on/off street lights at the specified timing.

In future, we are exploring the concept of pagers system for quick and efficient operation of street light poles throughout Mumbai.

Sodium-vapour lamps made an appearance in the commercial areas of Mumbai in 1980. To save on fuel and, as an alternative, considering the rising cost of oil, mercury-vapour lamps were chosen for street-lighting. Fluorescent mercury vapour lights went up in large numbers in 1982. In 1990 came “Energy Efficient” lamps and “Energy Fluorescent” lamps followed them in 1993.

And the Electricity department does not work the magic only on the roads of Mumbai; Electricity is provided by the department for various public functions and religious celebrations. As many as twenty-five years ago, the department had made special arrangements for lighting at Girgaum Chowpatty, on the occasion of the immersion of the Ganesh idols. During the years the arrangements have kept improving.

And now the devotees of Lord Ganesh venturing some distance into the sea are helped by strong shafts of light.


Prior to the success in implementing effective remote control of street lights, the Undertaking had started controlling Receiving stations from two control points. There are now 35 receiving stations in the Undertaking where the voltage is stepped down from 110KV to 11 KV, 33 KV to 11 KV, 22 KV to 11KV and 22 KV to 6.6 KV.

On an average, each receiving station supplies power to 50 substations, feeding 21,000 consumers. The efficient operation of the equipment in these Receiving Stations is therefore vital, if the consumer is to receive reliable supply at a steady voltage.

With the help of this equipment we can control the circuit breakers, tap change control gear and the voltage. The Undertaking decided in 1966 to employ the Remote Control Scheme. It was possible to immediately implement this decision, because the control cables required for this purpose had already been laid. The manufacture of the equipment was entrusted to the Indian Telephone Industries at Bangalore. The two main control points are located at the Esplanade Receiving Station and the Kingsway Receiving Station from where all the Receiving Stations are monitored and controlled. The remote Control equipment was installed in 1970 at the ‘Vidyut’ Building near the Esplanade Receiving Station and at Kingsway in 1972.


The system provided by the Indian Telephone Industries was designed on electro-mechanical relay principle. Due to this it had limitations for the speed of operation. There was no data acquisition also. These factors forced the Undertaking to keep the system to a minimum level.

In 1980 BEST replaced the Supervisory Remote Control system with micro processor based Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA). Additional to SRC System SCADA functions are data acquisition, analysis and report generation.

The communication between the master control and receiving station is through underground communication cables.

To further improve the reliability and quick restoration of supply BEST is going in for microware wireless communication in the years to come. A very-high frequency radio link which was established in 1963 for quick communications is now getting outdated. This is being replaced by microwave system and cellular phones.

With the installation of this equipment, the restoration of supply when a fault develops in a system has become much more efficient and quicker. When a fault occurs in the system, a message is registered on the indicators at the central points. With the help of the links the operator at the control points can direct the field staff to quickly reach the places where the faults have occured and restore supply with the minimum delay.


Shortages are caused when the supply does not keep pace with the demand. But in spite of whatever the Undertaking might do to expand its distribution system well ahead of the demand, it has ultimately to depend on the supply from Tatas. In the early fifties for three consecutive years the monsoon had failed. The low water levels in Tata’s reservoirs, which are a source of power supply to Mumbai, had created a severe power shortage in the area. It became necessary to make alternative  arrangements. Many industrial installations in the city had generators of their own to serve as a stand-by. These private owners were asked to operate their generators for their own requirements. The power thus released was utilised to serve the other consumers. This scheme came to be know as the Power Pool Scheme. The Undertaking had taken a lead and played an important role in implementing this Scheme not only in Mumbai city but also in the entire State. Later the installation of more efficient generators in the Railways’ generating station at Chola and a new generating station installed at Trombay by Tatas, considerably improved the position, and in 1961 the Power Pool Scheme was discontinued.


In the old days when plenty of space was available, nobody had perhaps ever heard the words ‘Underground Substation’ and ‘Package Type Substation’. Due to the tremendous increase in the demand for electricity in all parts of the city, the need for Substations has been increasing. The procurement of sites for Substations, especially in the congested areas in the city, presents many serious problems. In the rural areas it is customary to have pole-mounted substations. Owing to the tall buildings around, the erection of such substations is dangerous in the city. Moreover, nobody would like the idea of building such pole-mounted Substations in a city like Mumbai, from the aesthetic point of view. In 1964, on an experimental basis, 5 vault-type transformers were imported. Our experience of them, since their installation in 1967 was not encouraging.

The population of Mumbai has been growing at a fast pace. Every day, hordes of people come to the city and the city accomodates them. Problems too have been growing fast; Slums, without the basic facilities, have been coming up alongside roads. In many cases, the slums have crossed the footpath to the bus-shelter. On the one hand, there is the lovingly nursed dream of a clean and beautiful Mumbai and on the other the depressing reality of a slum. On one side there is the slogan of a green Mumbai and on the other the sad sight of a footpath swallowed up by an ugly slum. When will this stop? The question has to wait for an answer. A voice is sometimes raised against this by the white-collared gentry. Efforts are made now and then to pull down or push back the ramshackle huts. But soon enough they re-appear on the same spots. As time passes, the huts come to be regularised and the Electric Supply branch had to install a separate meter for every hut. Now the paths snaking through the huts have their lighting like the huts themselves. The sensible Mumbaites have accomodated these huts too.

During last some years more and more of Sky scrapers have been going up – and up! The sea has literally been pushed back in several places to make room for some of them. The Cuffe Parade, Nariman Point and the Backbay Reclamation areas are now virtually cement jungles. To provide electricity to these sky scrapers and this ever-widening expanse, is not a simple job. There are the new buildings and the new technology : T.V. Sets, Video and Audio Sets, mainly to entertain and the washing machine and air-conditioning to make life easier. And a variety of machines, small and big, are coming into use on a larger and larger scale. And the computer age is upon us. Naturally, the demand for electricity has rocketed; the demand from sky-scrapers particularly for computers and air-conditioners. The demand for commercial use of electricity, too, has been growing fast.

The height of buildings creates several problems in reaching electricity to them. Therefore, the need for a high pressure electricity set-up. One such set-up required for a Sky scraper is adequate for 400 residential and office buildings.

At present, the Undertaking buys its electricity from the Tata Electric Company. But if it produces its own electricity it will be more convenient, and will also effect a large saving. Its production cost will be less and the consumers demand can be met better. For this purpose the Undertaking is launching its own generation programme in the near future.

The BEST was the first organization in India to supply electricity through underground cables – and that too using the latest technology. Since 1989, the voltage of its receiving stations has been increased from 22KV to 33KV. Not only that, it built at Nariman Point that very year a receiving station of the capacity of 110 KV. In this country such a sub-station is normally outside a building and also far from a residential zone. This one is within a building. And, except for the lower floors, this building is used for private establishment. Most people working every day on the upper floors are probably not aware that below them is a power-station of the capacity of 110 KV. In 1993 the Undertaking also set up a receiving station of 110 KV at Khetwadi. This one also is inside a building.


Switch-gears : It has already been stated that the Undertaking has been in the forefront in using the latest technology in the system of electric supply. At present the Undertaking uses switch-gears of various types and using various technologies. For example, airblast, minimum oil circuit breakers, SF-6 circuit-breakers, Vacuum circuit-breakers and gas-insulated circuit-breakers. These circuit-breakers, being of the latest type, do not need supervision.

As these switch-gears occupy less space, it is possible to set them up where otherwise enough space is not available. Thus, the use of these gears has been quite profitable to the Undertaking.

Cables and their Testing : The BEST has the largest underground cable distribution system. As a matter of fact, compared to the ‘overhead’ system, the method of carrying electricity through underground cable is far more costly. But considering the congested housing and the crowded roads of Mumbai the ‘overhead’ system would be unthinkable. So, although the underground system is costly, from the viewpoint of reliability and safety, it is advantageous.

Later, the Undertaking started using upto-date technology in the cable and jointing system. There was a shortage of the copper used in the cables. The government brought control on the use of copper. Finally, as an alternative, aluminium cables were brought into use. Then came “PVC”. For high-power transmission, XLPE cable was brought into use in 1982.

The short-circuit test was employed on the underground cables. The BEST was the leading organization in testing low-pressure cables. Till 1980, high-voltage cables were tested by the “Bridge Method”. During 1980 for the testing of high-voltage cables BIECCO surge generators were purchased. And in 1990, the Undertaking got a “testing van”. equipped with full apparatus. This van is able to detect the faults in both high-voltage and low-voltage cables. This van was bought although it costs a great deal. Its main advantage is that by removing the faults in an electrical set-up in the minimum time, it enables the undertaking to provide good, dependable and prompt service to the consumers. The undertaking is using four of such “Testing Vans” at present.

Communication and Monitoring Systems : BEST is the first electric supply organization to start VHF communication and that it did in 1960. For the messages to be delivered promptly, the wireless message system was started in 1963. It has now become a simple operation to restore the electric supply by detecting the defects by going to the spot quickly in a mobile van.

For the efficient operations during the year 1967, the area was bifurcated into North and South. In 1991, the department concerned with the operations and maintenance activities was again bifurcated into four zones namely North, Central North, South and Central South. If there was any fault in the machinery, in order to spot it and to take prompt action to correct it, a “supervisory remote control” of the most modern kind was set up.

Meters and Relays : Over the years, changes have been taking place in the electric meters used. The old type of meters did not prove as efficient as they might have. Therefore, in 1994, the electricity section brought into use “electronic meters” and ‘solid state relays’. As recently as 1995, with the help of modern technology and computers, the Undertaking proposes to launch the “remote metering system”.

Computerisation in the Electricity Supply Departments : The computer is now used in a big way in the BEST Undertaking. Of, course, computerization has assumed importance in all areas of activity. Even then, it must be stated, the BEST was the first organisation in the country to issue electricity bills to consumers through the computer and also use it on a large scale. The computerised billing has been going on since 1974 and within a fixed period the bills are delivered to the consumers at their houses, unerringly. In 1988 began the use of the Personal Computer in the department. As a result the work of the Department has been going on even more efficiently. It is easier than ever now to provide prompt service to the consumers. Consumers complaints are settled without delay giving them full satisfaction.

The computer gets you the details you want in a few moments. For example, the consumer’s name, address, meter number, system number, the use to which the electricity is put – whether domestic, commercial or industrial- the pressure, the capacity of the cable etc. You don’t have to go looking for the statistics or record.

The most important stage in the development of computerization of the Electricity Supply Department is the “digitizing” with the topographical map of the entire cable network.

Once the ‘digitizing’ with the topographical map of the cable network is accomplished, there will be complete change from A to Z, one might say, in the methods of operation of the Department.

Research, development and planning have been an integral part of the supply system from the beginning. Studies are continuously undertaken to see how the new advances in the science of electro-technology can be utilised and adapted to meet the constantly increasing needs of the electricity consumer in Mumbai.

Transport Engineering

The origins of the Kingsway Workshop go back to the Colaba Causeway workshop of the Bombay Tramways Company as it then was. The workshop was opened there in 1886. People living in the surrounding area complained of nuisance from the workshop in 1910 and the Company (by now the B.E.S.T. Company) decided to shift the workshop to a convenient spot in the north of the city. Accordingly, in June 1915 land was acquired from the Improvement Trust at Kingsway, between Dadar and Matunga, on a 999-year lease. A workshop was soon erected on the plot.The workshop undertook the repairs of both the coachwork and the electrical machinery of trams. It was equipped with all the necessary machines, such as a heavy-duty shaping machine, a tyre-cutting lathe, a tyre-heating furnace, an armature-winding plant, a coil-testing machine, etc. The work was carried out in sections such as the truck shop, the paint shop, the machine shop, etc.

When bus services were introduced in 1926, a bus workshop was opened in Colaba. Transportation engineering was now divided into separate sections for trams and buses. When the Colaba workshop began to prove inadequate to the needs of buses, another bus workshop was opened at Dadar near the tram workshop. This workshop had various sections for repairs to chassis (base-frame, engine and wheels), body and ancillaries, and seats and windows, a paint shop, a machine stop, an electrical section, a unit section, calibration and lubrication, a tyre section, etc.

After  1947, the workshop space was found to be inadequate with the expansion of the bus service. In 1950, further land was acquired next to the Kingsway Tram Workshop and the new Workshop was planned to maintain a fleet of 600 buses.

When trams were abolished in 1964, the tram sheds in the Kingsway Workshop were taken over for the expansion of the Bus Workshop. This was a useful temporary expedient; but these sheds had been specially designed for trams and did not permit a scientifically planned expansion of the Bus workshop.


When the trams were abolished, the tram and bus workshops were merged. The pits in the tram sheds (for under carriage repairs) were filled in and levelled and the space was allotted to bus body repair sections. Machines no longer useful were sold. Some of the tram workshop staff were redundant under the new arrangement and under the regulations, could have been retrenched on payment of compensation. They were, however, suitably re-trained and absorbed in the bus workshop.

The rearrangements at unifaction were carried out as methodically as possible. The space needed for each section was calculated as for an assumed fleet of 1500 buses. The layout of the Shops was arranged, so as to avoid unnecessary movement of materials. The work of shifting of machinery and equipment and merging of shops was carried out without affecting the daily production.

At the time the Municipality took over the B.E.S.T. Company, double decker buses constituted 65 to 70 per cent of the fleet, the rest were single deckers. Economically, this was a sound proportion.

The chassis (and spare parts of the chassis) of D.D. buses were imported from England. However, in 1961, the Government of India laid down restrictions on the import of D.D. chassis, as it was proposed to manufacture the chassis in India. the import of spare parts was also severely restricted.

The Undertaking’s buses were in a grave state at this period. Most were old. New chassis were not available. The fleet utilization was 81 per cent. i.e. out of every 100 vehicles only 81 were available for actual service; the other 19 were in the workshop awaiting repairs. Shortage of spares delayed their repair. In the circumstances, two alternatives were open : one, to purchase the uneconomic single-deckers, for they were being manufactured in India; the other, to strive for self-sufficiency by repairing the existing double-deckers with maximum efficiency and putting them on the road again.

Transportation Engineering accepted the challenge and started methodical work. About 50 vehicles in the available fleet were temporarily withdrawn from service and brought into the workshop. Their units were dismantled and the parts were thoroughly inspected for the degree of wear and tear. Then they were sorted into reparable and condemned.

Inquiries were set on foot about the possibilities of having replacements for the condemned parts manufactured in the country. Indian manufacturers were induced to undertake the manufacture of parts which were needed on a large scale, such as pistons rings, valve guides, rocker shafts, main and big-end bearings for Gardener engines. etc.

The same solution could not be adopted for parts which were not needed in large quantities. Attempts were made to repair them in the workshop. With processes such as welding and metal-spraying, sleeving, metal-stitching, such parts as valves, crank-shafts, master-cylinders, wheel-cylinders, tappets, flywheel housings, cam-shafts, etc., were given a new lease of life.

Until the B.E.S.T. Company was taken over by the Municipality, only the Colaba Depot was available for the maintenance of buses and minor repairs. As the fleet grew, the need for more depots was felt. In 1961 the fleet comprised 1045 buses in all. Six new depots were constructed for their maintenance. The Wadala Depot was equipped for the maintenance of 300 buses. At this time it was the largest depot in Asia. After this, taking long maintenance experience into account, the authorities decided that no depot should be called on to look after more than 125 to 150 buses. Accordingly, small depots were built at convenient spots in the city and its suburbs.

Standardization of Bus Construction : From an engineering point of view, a bus has two main components : the body or coachwork and chassis (together with the engine and the transmission) on which the body is built. Both were standardized as far as possible.

In the period upto 1960 different manufacturers built varying bus-bodies. Some bus-bodies were of composite type and some were built of steel and aluminium. These variations proved troublesome and costly in maintenance. A decision to have complete metal bodies was taken and brought into effect from 1962. Another early step was to standarize the various fitments on bus-bodies.

In 1967, with a view to standardizing bus construction, buses were classified into three types. Type A comprised single deckers, steel-built throughout. Type B comprised double – deckers, also steel-built throughout. Type C included both single deckers and double-deckers and used both steel and aluminium in their construction.

Manufacturers build these types of buses in conformity with special designs prepared by the Transportation Engineering Department. The demands of city transport are different in some respects from those of other transport. In the city gear-changes are far more frequent and brakes must be extremely efficient. A large diesel tank is required; medium horse-power is adequate for the engine. Transportation Engineering takes all these requirements into account in designing a chassis to suit the special needs of city traffic. Efforts are being made to improve the bus-bodies and make them better looking.

Alternative modes of transport

THE END OF THE TRAM WAYSTransport is a very important factor in the economic organisation of a modern city.  With  the concentration of industrial and other employment in a city, there is tremendous increase in the movement of men and goods.  The pace of such movement has an impact on the economics of the organisation Transport is like the lungs of the orgniszation.  Transport in the  city of Mumbai is handled by the two railways and the B. E. S. T.   Undertaking.  The Undertaking carried more passengers than the two railways put together and yet, it must be admitted, there is considerable scope for improvement in its bus service.

The  B. E. S. T.  Undertaking is always thinking to use other modes of transport.  It gave consideration to the following alternative means of transport, having obtained expert advice on them :

(1) Aerial Ropeway,
(2) Underground Railway,
(3) Overhead Railway (Aerial Monorail), and
(4) Water Bus


The idea of installing an aerial ropeway in Mumbai first came up in  1953.  It was to connect Chowpatty and Malbar Hill.

Coaches each with four seats were to slide up and down the steel ropeway.  To enable the passengers to get a panoramic view the coach was to be fitted with glass windows.  A German expert helped finalise the details of the scheme.  The  Corporation approached the Government for permission to operate the aerial ropeway. But somehow inspite of all efforts the scheme never materialized.

Underground Railway
This form of transport for Mumbai was first thought  of as early as in 1924. As conceived at first, it was to be a circular route joining Bombay Central, the Khada Parsi Statue (Nagpada), the J.J. Hospital, Pydhoni, Crawford Market, Bori Bunder, Marine Lines, Charni Road and Kennedy Bridge. Later, a straight north-south route was proposed. In 1954, the scheme was submitted to the State Government for approval. The government thought it impracticable as the outlay on the railway would be huge.  But the population of the city kept growing so fast that the need for such a railway was felt more  and  more keenly by the Corporation, the B. E. S. T. Undertaking, and by the  Government as well.

In 1956 the scheme came up, once again, with much impetus this time.  During his visit to Japan,  Shri  T. S. Rao, the then Chief  Engineer of the Undertaking made a study of the underground railway system in that country, and  on his return  submitted his report on it.  In the light of the report, the scheme for an underground railway in Mumbai was considered at a meeting attended by the members of the B. E. S. T. Committee, the representatives of the Central and the Western Railways and the Special Engineer of the Municipal Corporation.  The meeting decided to conduct a geological survey of the city for this purpose, and assigned the job to Messers.  Higashi and Tsuji, a Japanese firm.  This was  the first actual step taken in direction of providing  Mumbai with an underground railway.  After the report of the survey was received, the General Manager of the  Unertaking drew up a plan to build an underground railway from Museum to Dadar, via Mohamadali Road and Dr. Ambedkar Road,  Then the Government was approached for financial assistance for the preliminary work on the scheme; but the Government would not give it, and the scheme got stuck  once again.

The next time the scheme moved was in 1962, when the then Engineer-in-charge of the Undertaking, Shri P. G.  Patankar, was sent to Berlin and Milan to study the underground railway systems there, and for training.  He recorded his observations and  suggestions on underground railway in great detail in the report he submitted. His plan for proposed underground railway for the city envisaged five stages.    In 1964  the Japan Consulting Institute invited the Undertaking to send its representative to see the working of Japan’s underground railway system. Accordingly, the Undertaking’s General Manager, Shri G. A.  Sharma; the Chief Engineer of its Electric Supply Department, Shri K. N. Rao and its Engineer-in-charge, Shri P. G. Patankar, visited  Japan.  On their return, they  submitted their report to the  Undertaking.  However for want of huge capital investment it could not be materialised.


Having examined the underground mass rapid transit system, the Undertaking also gave thought to overhead rapid transit which principally comprises of  electric rolling stock with pneumatic tyres running on a single wide flanged concrete rail instead of the two conventional narrow steel rails and supported on elevated pylons.  This system is popularly called ‘Monorail’.

The idea of monorail dates as far back as the 19th century.  There  were certain patents, designs and achievements though they are not much known to-day.  These achievements did gain much ground but ultimately fell into the greatest disrepute, except a few short lengths probably in Germany.  There were mainly two reasons for this disrepute.  Firstly, they  made unbearable noise for the inhabitants of the streets over which they ran and, secondly, the elevated lines encumbered in an abusive manner the sky over the streets.


With the city of Mumbai surrounded by the sea on three  sides, water bus  transport for it was bound to suggest itself, and it did in 1958.  In December that year the Bombay Steam Navigation Company decided to close down its launch service linking the city with Uran, Rewas and Dharamtar.  This  naturally agitated those who used the service daily, and they could be counted in hundreds.  A meeting of citizens passed a resolution requesting the Municipal Corporation to take over the launch service.  It was intended that the B. E. S. T. Undertaking should run the service, and extend it later to more places in the Kolaba district,  like  Mandva and Alibag.  The sponsors of the proposal argued that if a safe, convenient and punctual service of this kind was available it would help reduce the congestion in the city – and the strain on its transport systems – by  encouraging industries and people to migrate from the city to the mainland across the harbour.  In 1959, the Corporation submitted the  proposal to the Undertaking for consideration.  The Government too was interested.  In March 1969 the Director of Transport suggested that a water bus service  be run on two routes, one starting from the Sassoon Dock and going up the creek to Chembur, touching Ballard Pier, the Ferry Wharf and Wadala on the way, the other, on the Western side, starting from the Foreshore Road and terminating at either Bandra or Versova,touching Chowpatty, Walkeshwar and Mahim.  The  Undertaking  however pleaded its inability to work such a scheme for lack of funds.

But the Undertaking could not be indifferent to the water bus scheme, with the strain on its bus service growing worse year by year.  So in 1969, a committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Shri G. H. Lalwani, the then General Manager, to examine the scheme in all its aspects.  More important aspects were : the financial viability; whether it could be an all-weather  service or would it have to be suspended during the rainy season, with the financial repercussions, if the latter were the case;  the traffic the service was likely to draw; and the precautions to be taken to ensure safety for the passengers;

Mumbai is not the only big city harassed by the problems of providing adequate transport for its people.  It is the same all over the world.  The pressure of traffic is heavy only during certain hours.  And it is only in one direction.  A transport service therefore has to have enough vehicles to cope with the peakhour traffic.  During the rest of the time the  vehicles don’t have enough passengers   It is not so with a State Transport bus.  It has evenly distributed traffic.  Moreover, a city transport service, in catering to the needs of its passengers, has often to operate unprofitable routes.


Horse-drawn tramcars had been running in Mumbai since 1874,.   When the electric tramcar appeared for the first time in the city on 7th May 1907, it was given a warm welcome as a  very modern mode of transport.  When the bus  arrived on the  scene in 1926, the tram-car  ceased to be modern;  but this did not affect its usefulness.  In fact it became quite important as the poor man’s transport’  and continued to be so till the Second World War.  The years that followed brought dramatic changes in the life of the city.  Its population started growing  rapidly.  The people wanted faster transport.  the tramcar was, however, innnocent of the fast-changing environment and it  continued  to rumble up and down, in its 1907 manner.  There was, of course, little scope for improvement.  If anything, it moved at an even slower pace, thanks to the congestion on the  roads.  It found the crowds bothersome and the  crowds found it a clumsy, lumbering impediment to the smooth flow of traffic.  The poor thing had no place in this swift-changing city.  It had to go.  The city had already started thinking of quicker substitutes for it.

When the B. E.S. T. Undertaking took over the tramway in 1947 it was quite decrepit. Eight days later, Mumbai went gay in celebration of the advent of freedom. There were illuminations on two consecutive nights, and  almost every Mumbaite was out on the street to enjoy the dazzling sight.  Every available vehicle was pressed into service by the people,  and it was made to carry the maximum number.  The poor tramcars had the worst time of all, with crazy persons riding on  the top and hanging on to the windows, when their inside was jam-packed.  Ill-treated thus, many of the tramcars became ‘sick’.  The city soon recovered from, its delirium of joy and got back to  its normal life, but somehow the tramcars continued to be abnormally crowded.  Their number too kept dwindling, with more and more of them being withdrawn fom service.  The Undertaking tried to get the Government to impose a limit on the number of passengers a tramcar might carry, but to no avail. By the beginning of 1948, only 186 of the total fleet of 258 tramcars were fit to ply.

The tramway system had been running at a loss when the Undertaking took it over. The losses kept on mounting year after year and something had to be done about them. It was not quite so easy to raise the fares. So other methods were tried. One of them was to abolish the transfer ticket. This concession had been there since the tramway started. It was an interesting concession and this is how it worked : Suppose, you had to go from Colaba to Dadar. You boarded a tram bound for Pydhoni. The conductor would give you a ticket for Dadar, punched for ‘transfer’ Dhobi Talao. You got off at Dhobi Talao, did what work you had there, and took a tram bound for Opera House, The Conductor now punched your ticket for ‘transfer’ at Girgaon, where you got down for some work you had there, and then boarded a tram for Dadar. And all this for just one anna! Not more than two ‘transfers’ were allowed. To get the best out of one ticket, through two ‘transfers’, used to be looked upon by practical people, as a test of your ingenuity, and of your knowledge of tram-routes! The concession was withdrawn from 2nd January 1951.

But this did not improve matters appreciably for the Undertaking. The service continued to incur losses. In 1952 a survey of tram traffic was conducted. Acting on it, the Undertaking put fewer trams on routes with insufficient traffic.

This did not go far enough, either. The truth was that tramway had come to be an outdated mode of transport and the Undertaking had to face this squarely. So, in 1953, it started closing down the uneconomic routes. The one plying between Null Bazar and Jacob Circle (Route No.12) was the first to be closed down, its place being taken by a bus route. That was on 6th April 1953. Then a few others went, one by one No.19 from Ballard Pier to Sandhurst Bridge. No.20 from Dhobi Talao to Reay Road No.21, from Sandhurst Bridge to Tank Bunder, No.2 from Golpitha to Tank Bunder, No.22 from Museum to Tank Bunder. They were all replaced by bus-routes. More and more tram routes were closed down in the years that followed. Finally only one remained : the one between Bori Bunder and Dadar. And the last tram on this route left Bori Bunder at 10 p.m. on 31st March 1964. Thus the tramway in Mumbai came to an end!