ROAD SAFETY INITIATIVES - BEST MUMBAI

The Brihan Mumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking supplies electricity in the old City limits of Brihan Mumbai upto Mahim and Sion and Passenger Transport in the entire Greater Mumbai and beyond its Municipal limits in Mira- Bhayandar, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

The history of this organisation dates back to the year 1874 when the Bombay Tramways Co. Ltd. was formed and introduced Horse drawn Tramcars for Passengers. In 1905, the Company was bought over  by a new Company titled as the Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways Co. Ltd.  This Company, along with the generation and distribution of electricity, also introduced electric Tramcars replacing the Horse drawn Tramcars.  In the year 1926 buses were introduced.  On 7th August 1947, the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Co. Ltd. was Municipalised and the Bombay Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking came into existence, which today is called as Brihan Mumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. At the time of Municipalisation, the Undertaking had in its fleet 240 buses and 270 trams.  Thereafter, over the years, in stages it took up passenger transport in the extended suburbs and today the BEST Undertaking is having a fleet of 4139 buses comprising of 3244 single deck buses, 487 midi buses, 288 A.C. buses and 120 double deck buses. Out of 4139 buses, 2958 buses are operated on CNG fuel and remaining 1181 on diesel. The operation is maintained from 26 bus depots, 51 bus stations and 101 bus termini.

The BEST Undertaking today carries 3.5 millions passenger on 60,000 trips and operates around 650,000 kilometers daily. Apart from BEST buses, Western railway and Central railway plays major role in transporting passengers. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are also available as public transport. The BEST is a major operator carrying 1.22 billions passengers in a year and operating over 240 million kilometer in year.

 The major problem for operation is traffic congestion due to increasing vehicle population and less road space. Besides, unauthorised parking on roads by private vehicles and hawking on footpaths/roads. The Railway Station area is more congested due to haphazard parking of taxis and auto-rickshaws and hawkers occupying  the roads, making it difficult for the movement of buses.

There are over 2.2 million vehicles registered in Greater Mumbai. As per the statistics available with the Transport Department, Government of Maharashtra, the vehicles registered in Greater Mumbai was 1.77 millions in the year 2010, which has increased to 2.19 millions in the year 2013 with an average 8% growth per year.

Initiative

In the year 2008-09, the rate of accident per 10,000 kms operated was on higher side (0.04). With a view to reduce the rate of accidents and thereby human loss and damage to the property and propagate the cause of road safety, the BEST Undertaking started various programmes of training/Counselling with the help of internal resources, i.e., staff and Infrastructure which was prevailing.

 The activities were re-structured from 1st January 2009 (Road Safety Week – 1st January 2009 to 7th January 2009) and rigorous follow up was done. 

The various efforts taken are listed below:

i) Accident Prevention checking/ standing duty at Accident spots:

With a view to curb the tendency of rash driving, jumping signals at junctions by driving at excessive speed, non-stopping of buses at scheduled bus stops, not allowing sufficient time to passengers for boarding/alighting, etc.  During the checking the drivers/conductors are suitably instructed and the drivers/conductors committing breach of instructions are reported and disciplinary action is taken.

ii) Night checking

This special check is carried out twice in a month between 18.00 hrs to 21.00 hrs & 20.00 hrs to 23.00 hrs. During this period, buses are returning to depots for stabling and the drivers/conductors are in hurry to report off their duties. To prevent such tendency, night checking is carried out. The reports are sent against such drivers and disciplinary action is taken.

iii) Counselling Bus Drivers

With a view to make accident prevention more effective and result oriented, this concept was introduced and the Drivers are counselled personally by the Officers of Traffic Department. Bus Drivers involved in accidents are counselled by Senior Officers and are sent to Traffic Training Centre for refresher training course.

iv) Observance of Road Safety week

Every year during the first week of January, Road Safety Week is observed. To mark the occasion, various programmes/ activities such as Exhibition, audio-video shows, slide shows and displaying banners. On the occasion, drivers having accident free record for ten years are felicitated. The bus drivers/conductors are made aware of accidents and the precautions to be taken to avoid repetition. Posters, appeals, instructions, etc are issued by citing major/fatal accidents and their causes. Special message of General Manager in the form of appeal is issued to Bus Drivers.

v) Refresher Course for Bus Drivers

The bus drivers involved in major/minor accidents as also having bad driving habits are given three days refresher course at our training school. During the refresher course, they are emphasized to refrain from bad driving habits and to save human life and the consequent liability of the Undertaking on account of compensation. They are also taught to show courtesy and care for other road users, behaviour with passengers, particularly physically handicapped, senior citizens, school going children, etc.

vi) Training to Bus Drivers

Although, Bus Drivers are issued licence to drive heavy vehicle by Regional Transport Office, while recruiting Bus drivers, driving test is conducted by the Undertaking. The selected candidates for the post of bus drivers are given eight weeks vigorous driving training, comprising of defensive driving, importance of speed limit, anticipation, observation of traffic rules, care and caution for other road users particularly pedestrian, two wheelers, cyclists and other light vehicles. The consequential effects of bad driving habits on various components and expenditure on that account are taught by imparting special training at our Traffic Training Centre. 

vii)  Stress Management

The tedious and stressful work of Drivers on line, sometimes affects their behavioral approach towards passengers and other road users, resulting into accidents or altercations. With the help of NGOs, Prajapita Brahmakumari Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya, Art of Living Foundation and Salaam Bombay Foundation, meditation courses are conducted.

viii) Accident prevention Training Van

We have developed one Accident Prevention Training Van with audio-visual equipments. A monthly programme for training is prepared and the vehicle covers all 26 bus depots and the training is given to Drivers in depots with the help of displays and videos on safe driving.

ix) Improving road conditions

Attention is paid for improving  road condition, which is one of the factors contributing to road accidents. A periodic survey of road condition is carried out throughout the operational area of BEST Undertaking. The bad road conditions are taken up with the concerned Authorities, viz. Municipal Corporation,  Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority(MMRDA), etc, for taking necessary remedial measures. The traffic congestion at signals is also studied and taken up with Traffic Police to check the signalling phase to avoid congestion and accidents near traffic junctions.

x) Checking Bus Drivers using Breath Analysers

We have now started checking Bus drivers randomly before sending them on line from depots using alcohol breath analysers. This would also help in Bus Drivers to desist from taking alcoholic drinks while coming to duty.

The above actions and methodology have helped to minimise the accidents. The details of accidents from the year 2008-09 are as follows:

Year

No.of fatal accidents

Total accidents

Total

injuries

Accident per 10,000 kms

2008-2009

50

940

780

0.04

2009-2010

43

882

722

0.03

2010-2011

49

847

822

0.03

2011-2012

26

840

896

0.03

2012-2013

30

770

823

0.03

2013-2014

31

700

713

0.03

2014-2015

24

 

511

448

0.02

 

 

Though there were no involvement of the public at large in this in-house project directly, the ultimate benefit has already been passed on the public by way of improved availability of buses due to reduction in accident. The expenditure to public as well as Undertaking reduced due to reduced no. of accidents, improved productive hours of each, i.e., public, law enforcing agencies and Undertaking’s resources, as the number of accidents have come down. This is inspite of increase in the no. of vehicles on the road, population and fixed road space.

The actions by BEST on road safety addresses the mission of National Urban Transport Policy, “to recognize that people occupy center-stage in our cities and all plans would be for their common benefit and well being” as also it fulfills the objective of National Urban Transport Policy ‘to address the concerns of road safety’.