The BEST is all set to launch 30 low-floor, wheelchair accessible buses early next year.
“More than 5-10% of the population are reluctant to board our buses because they are either in wheelchairs or unable to climb the steps in our regular red buses. So we are pushing for these special buses which will have low floors, a ramp to allow wheelchairs to board smoothly, and locks for the wheelchairs so that passengers in them can travel in ease,” said BEST general manager Jagdish Patil.
“The buses are being procured at a cost of Rs 19.3 crore and we expect to conduct trial runs soon,” he added. A final approval is awaited from the BEST committee, where some are not convinced.
“We are not against these buses if they are of good quality. In 2005, we bought buses that often witnessed a problem of fumes coming from the back, they were noisy and had poor pick-up. This resulted in these buses frequently remaining off-road for repairs and maintenance,” said a BEST panel member.
The undertaking had floated a tender in October-November. “We have zeroed in on Star bus Marcopolo with automatic gears. We will be customizing the buses,” said Patil.
Officials have been asked to seek help of NGOs working with physically-challenged citizens to identify routes frequently accessed by them. “We will arrange for ramps at such bus stops. It will enable the escort to push the wheelchair comfortably inside the bus. At least two wheelchair passengers can be accommodated on every bus.Besides, the elderly can also board these low-floor buses without any difficulty