I have heard and read a lot of negative stuff about the BEST buses. Stories about how careless BEST drivers are, how people get run under them and how they never seem to stop at the stops published in newspapers and weblogs regularly. Even I have had rough deals with the 'red' buses during my 4 years of stay in Mumbai. But in the last year or so, I have had the chance to closely scrutinize the BEST experience.
I can't believe it! They are fast, they are punctual and they are brutally efficient. Not just the buses. Everything about the BEST bus system is! Their amazing frequency, the way they make their way across difficult stretches of the road with specialized BEST bus-only one-ways, the every-half-a-kilometer-3-seconds-only stops, the organized queues at bus stops, the elderly (and only they) can enter from the front entrance, etc.
Even the bus conductors are chillingly efficient. They hardly take 3 minutes to vend tickets to the 'optimally boarded' bus. They have separate compartments in their purses for all the possible options of coins that they would need, and giving back the change is done in a fraction of a second. The list could go on.
I take just 20 - 25 minutes in the mornings to travel on one to my work place. That becomes 15 if I manage to beat the rush hour. I almost always get a seat and sometimes I get the luxury of using the entire two-person seat. Thanks to this luxury, I can read my newspaper and e-mails through the journey.
Believe it or not, both buses and trains are more comfortable than being in a rickshaw sputtering along a crowded arterial road stopping virtually every second. Get this clear - I'm not an Earth-hour activist. I'm just suggesting that mass public transport, and in my case, the BEST bus system, is far better and efficient than any other form of conveyance. Try it. You won't regret.