The streets of Mumbai are incomplete without spotting the iconic red double-decker bus wheeling through the crowded streets. However, the bus that has become synonymous with the city enjoyed its last drive on September 15 after eight decades. However, October 5 will mark the last day for the three open-deck buses running from Agarkar Chowk to Seepz and Kurla.
As the last of Mumbai's double-decker bus departed from the Marol depot, decorated with balloons and garlands, on September 15 for the last drive, many Mumbaikars took to the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) to bid farewell. While some recounted tales of boarding the bus as young college-goers, many also recounted tales of touring the city of dreams on this iconic ride.
The iconic buses have been a part of many timeless Bollywood classics as well, for instance, the hit song "Jaanu meri Jaan" from the movie "Shaan," directed by Ramesh Sippy and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Parveen Babi and Rakhee Gulzar was shot entirely in the double-decker bus.
The first double-decker was introduced way back in 1937, almost a decade after the BEST launched its bus service in Mumbai, then Bombay. From then till the 1990s, the bus saw its golden years as the BEST added almost 900 buses to its roster. However, as time went on, the number of buses began to dwindle, with the number of buses plummeting to 125 buses in 2010 and only 50 by 2019. And as per reports, in 2022, there were only 48 left.
However, this does not mean that the joy of boarding a double-decker bus is forever lost for Mumbaikars and those travelling to the maximum city. As per reports, the non-AC double-decker buses will be replaced by an estimated total of 900 air-conditioned e-buses till January 2024. As a pilot, about 25 such buses have already been introduced so far. These upgraded buses have been launched to help the BEST achieve its goal of zero carbon emission and provide travellers with a comfortable journey. Moreover, with the rise in fuel prices, these e-buses are a cost-efficient alternative to their diesel-run counterparts. In addition, it has also been reported that a number of open-deck buses will also be added to the BEST's brand-new fleet.