Mumbai’s Iconic Red Double-Decker Buses Take Their Final Bow
Mumbai, a city known for its vibrant culture, diverse communities, and bustling streets, is bidding farewell to a cherished symbol of its identity – the iconic red double-decker buses. These distinctive buses have graced the city’s roads for over eight decades, becoming not just a mode of transportation but an integral part of Mumbai’s heritage.
The End of an Era
The red double-decker buses first made their appearance in Mumbai’s public transport system in 1937, and over the years, they evolved to become more than just a means of getting from point A to point B. They became an enduring symbol of the city itself, drawing the attention of tourists and locals alike.
However, the nostalgia surrounding these iconic buses will soon be tinged with sadness as the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has announced their discontinuation. Starting from September 15, these beloved buses will no longer ply the city’s streets.
Additionally, the open-deck double-decker buses, which have been serving as sightseeing delights for tourists since the 1990s, are also set to disappear. This change is slated to take place in the first week of October, further marking the end of an era.
Why Are They Being Discontinued?
The decision to discontinue the red double-decker buses comes after years of declining numbers and operational challenges. The BEST administration ceased acquiring these buses after 2008 due to their high operating costs and maintenance demands.
As of February this year, the BEST initiated the process of replacing the iconic double-decker buses with leased battery-run red and black double-decker buses. Approximately 25 such buses have been introduced so far, with plans for more in the pipeline.
In a recent release, the BEST announced its intentions to procure open-deck buses specifically designed for sightseeing purposes. While the acquisition process is underway, the new battery-run double-decker e-buses will temporarily cater to tourists.
Commuters Miss The Old Buses
With the introduction of the new double-decker e-buses, some commuters express a sense of nostalgia and believe that the new buses lack the charm of the original ones. “As the new double-decker e-buses are air-conditioned, we will miss sitting in the front in the old buses and traveling with the breeze from the open windows on our faces,” said Harshad Joshi, a bus enthusiast.
Indeed, these buses held a special place in the hearts of many, offering a unique experience that will be hard to replace.
Efforts to Preserve a Legacy
To prevent the double-decker buses from becoming a relic of the past, a commuters’ advocacy group named “Aapli BEST Aaplyasathi” has taken action. They have written to prominent figures, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal, Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, and the BEST’s general manager, urging them to reconsider the decision to retire these iconic buses.
The group hopes to evoke a sense of nostalgia and preserve a piece of Mumbai’s history by keeping these red double-decker buses on the streets. They fear that the fate of these buses may mirror that of trams, which were once the city’s first mode of public transport and are now a distant memory.
The discontinuation of Mumbai’s iconic red double-decker buses marks the end of an era for the city’s transportation system. While new and more modern buses are set to take their place, the charm and nostalgia associated with the red double-decker buses will be deeply missed by many.
Efforts are underway to appeal to the authorities to reconsider this decision and preserve a piece of Mumbai’s rich heritage. Whether these beloved buses will continue to grace the city’s streets or become a fond memory remains to be seen, but their impact on Mumbai’s history and culture is undeniable.
As Mumbai bids adieu to these iconic buses, the city moves forward into a new era of public transportation, leaving behind a legacy that will be cherished for generations to come.