Mumbai, the city that pulsates with life day and night, is witnessing the end of an era today as its iconic double-decker buses roll into history. After more than eight decades of serving as an integral part of the city’s bustling landscape, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has decided to retire its remaining fleet of these charming buses, citing concerns related to safety and maintenance.
For generations of Mumbaikars, these vibrant red, open-roofed, double-decker buses have been more than just a mode of transportation. They have been an enduring symbol of the city’s spirit and a vessel of cherished memories. Introduced in 1937, they quickly captured the hearts of both locals and tourists, becoming an emblematic feature of Mumbai’s public transportation system.
Goodbye Double-Decker Bus.
The Last Double Decker bus (non-AC) leaving from Marol Depot today morning pic.twitter.com/fSE0ygABij
— Mumbai Heritage (@mumbaiheritage) September 15, 2023
Over the years, these buses transcended their role as mere vehicles; they became a beloved part of Mumbai’s cultural identity. They starred in Bollywood films, providing iconic backdrops for unforgettable movie scenes. Melodious tunes paid tribute to them, celebrating their place in the city’s cosmopolitan soul.
Yet, as the years rolled on, the double-decker buses began to show signs of wear and tear. Aging and inadequately maintained, they became involved in a series of unfortunate accidents. Their safety features no longer met modern standards, and they lacked accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
In light of these genuine safety concerns, the decision was made to retire these beloved buses. Their final journey began from Marol Depot on a Friday morning, marking the end of an era that spans back to the early 1900s. October 5, 2023, is set to be their last day in service.
The sentiment surrounding this farewell is best captured by industrialist Anand Mahindra, who lamented, “Hello, Mumbai Police? I’d like to report the theft of one of my most important childhood memories.” He echoed the emotions felt by countless Mumbaikars who grew up with the iconic buses.
Hello, Mumbai Police? I’d like to report the theft of one of my most important childhood memories. 😞 https://t.co/Lo9QHJBVDW
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) September 15, 2023
While the departure of these buses marks the end of an unforgettable chapter in Mumbai’s history, it is essential to acknowledge that this decision was made with public safety in mind. Modern, safer alternatives are set to replace them, promising improved reliability and security for the city’s residents. As Mumbai says its final goodbyes to these charming red giants, their legacy lives on in the hearts and memories of the city they served so faithfully for over eight decades.
Mumbai’s Double-Decker Buses have a rich and storied history: Glimpse into their journey through time
1937: The iconic Double-Decker Buses made their debut in Mumbai in 1937. Imported from England, they quickly became a novel addition to the city’s public transportation system. Their distinctive double-level design and vibrant red color set them apart from other modes of transport.
Cultural Icon: Over the years, these buses became more than just a means of getting from point A to B. They became an integral part of Mumbai’s cultural identity. Their appearances in Bollywood films, where they often played pivotal roles, solidified their status as cultural icons. Melodious songs celebrated their unique charm, making them a symbol of the city’s cosmopolitan spirit.
Tourist Attraction: The Double-Decker Buses were not just for commuters; they also served as a popular mode of sightseeing for tourists. With their open roofs, passengers could enjoy panoramic views of the city’s bustling streets, historic landmarks, and coastal scenery.
Safety Concerns: However, as the years passed, safety concerns began to emerge. The buses, aging and poorly maintained, became involved in accidents, raising questions about their reliability and passenger safety. Moreover, they did not meet contemporary safety standards and lacked accessibility features for individuals with disabilities.
#WATCH | Non-AC double-decker bus conducts its last ride in Mumbai.
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has replaced Non-AC double-decker buses with AC double-decker buses. pic.twitter.com/zUEw3DwgzF
— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2023
Retirement Decision: In 2023, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) made the difficult decision to retire the remaining Double-Decker Buses from its fleet. Citing safety and maintenance concerns, BEST announced that these beloved vehicles would be replaced by newer, safer alternatives.
Farewell: The retirement of Mumbai’s Double-Decker Buses marks the end of an era in the city’s history. While their departure is met with nostalgia and sadness by many, it is important to remember that this decision was made in the best interests of public safety. The new buses will provide improved reliability and safety for the residents of Mumbai.