Driver realises absence of conductor only after commuters alert him.
A BEST driver on Thursday drove a bus without a conductor for nearly 9.8km, between Aarey Milk Colony and Powai, and stopped it only after the commuters alerted him about it.
The Route 489 Ltd bus plies between Dahisar and Shivaji Nagar in Govandi. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said an inquiry will be ordered into the incident and action will be taken, if necessary.
Jason Coelho, a videographer, said, “I was walking past my home when I saw a bus headed towards Shivaji Nagar standing in the opposite lane around 7.17pm. I crossed over to check what was happening. It turned out that the bus had come all the way from Aarey to Powai without a conductor.”
“After reaching Powai, passengers complained to the driver and that is when he stopped and started looking for the conductor. He called up the Shivaji Nagar bus depot as well. Finally after some time, another bus on the route arrived with the conductor. The police had also arrived by the time,” Coelho added.
BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said it was a shocking incident but he couldn’t comment on it without more information.
BEST spokesperson Hanumant Gophane said, “We run a huge fleet of more than 4,000 buses and unless there’s a major incident, it is not reported to the central control room. It is a possibility that the conductor stepped down to answer nature’s call, as the Aarey Colony road is a vast area.”
In a similar incident earlier this month, a bus on Route 208 plying between Borivali and Dahisar ran without a conductor for two to three stops but the driver was quick to realise it and halted the bus.
“The bus had come as a Dahisar-Borivali service. But since there was no bus for a long time, it did not terminate and returned on the route. The conductor had stepped down for paperwork and the driver started off without him. Later, a commuter alerted him. It had missed two stops,” said Shreyas Kulkarni, a commuter.
The incidents are being reported when BEST’s transport division is already registering revenue losses. Despite cutting down the working staff and increasing the daily average per bus per km, the undertaking is still facing losses.
As of now, BEST has only one profitable route – 340 – that runs between Ghatkopar and Andheri stations, parallel to the Mumbai Metro route. “Though there has been a trend of the crowd shifting to Metro, the route still runs on profit,” an official said.