Mumbai's red double-decker officially retires after 86 years

MUMBAI: Marking the end of an era spanning over 86 years, the red double-decker bus run by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) a cherished piece of history and an icon of the city of Mumbai for decades officially retired. 

Although the decision to phase out the last of these buses in line with government policy as the vehicles have reached their legal life of 15 years, was taken some time ago, the last of one of the remaining four rolled out from Andheri's MIDC Marol depot for its final journey to Agarkar Chowk.

To honour the legacy of this iconic vehicle, a heartfelt farewell ceremony for bus enthusiasts, and the general public was held at the Agarkar Chowk which is on the east of suburban Andheri station.

Since its introduction in 1937 to cope with the then, Bombay’s growing population, at one point in time BEST had nearly 900 of these buses running on almost all major routes, however complying with new safety standards and the latest emission norms over the years they were phased out and their numbers gradually declined.  

The BEST had decided to phase out the last 40 of 45 buses red double-decker buses by year-end and only five buses were left to be decommissioned to make way for a new fleet of airconditioned double-decker buses as electric alternatives.

The BEST has chalked out plans to induct 900 AC double-decker e-buses over the next nine months which will be operated from 12 out of the 27 bus depots and will have wide front and rear automatic entrances, CCTVs, and mobile charging facilities. 

Some days ago a group of senior citizens had their last joy ride on the red double-decker bus.  Booked by an NGO Jeevan Jyot Prathistan Sanstha for the citizens, on Tuesday, 72 senior citizens boarded the bus from Agarkar Chowk, outside the Andheri East railway station for a nine-hour drive to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) which was earlier known as Victoria Terminus. 

The senior citizens reminisced about the time of their youth when these buses were a coveted mode of transport and defined the character of the city as a piece of history. 


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