Home / MUMBAI / BEST Buses through the Years — a Short History of BEST

BEST Buses through the Years — a Short History of BEST

BEST buses, years of a Double Decker driving down Marine Drive, a bunch of us crowding the front seats meant for a mere two, top deck, breeze blowing our hair away, eyes scrunched against its onslaught, teen years and BLISS.

Whether it was the ‘C’Remember Mumbaikar’s favourite ride in his favourite BEST Double Decker bus all the way to R C Church.what better way to start this ‘peep into the past’ pictorial journey of Mumbai transport system.


Horse drawn Tram,Calcutta

BEST, originally in 1873 the “Bombay Tramway Company Limited” (under an Act of the Bombay Presidency), ran Horse-drawn Trams.To run its later electric trams, it set up in 1905, a captive power station at Wadi Bunder with a 4,300 kilowatts (5,800 hp) steam-power generator. This led to it supplying electric power to the city of Bombay; and so was born the’ ‘Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways (BEST) Company’. The BEST bought the assets of the tram-way  company for Rs.9, 850,000.


The year 1916 saw the rise of the private enterprise when The Tata PowerBest Gas Lamps before 1907 Company started to supply electricity to the Tram-way in 1916 and by 1925 all power was bought from and supplied by Tatas.

Growing city Bombay already faced rush-hour traffic in these early years and the Tram-way company introduced Double Decker Trams to ease the problem. None survived to my lifetime, though I recall travelling by trams in my childhood and then by the trolley bus from Gowalia Tank to Grant Road.

Electric Trolley Bus

The next avatar of the BEST in 1926 brought Motor-Transport-Buses to Bombay and finally in 1947 it became the ‘Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways (BEST) Company’. Today, since 1995, Mumbaikars know it as “Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST)”

Before 1865, Bombay had no mass public transport system. An enterprising American company decided to run horse drawn trams in the city and applied

1st American Horse drawn Car on rails.

for and was granted a licence; but the “Bombay Omnibus Service” never took off as the fare was exorbitant– service between Malabar Hill and Fort would cost a pass- fare of THIRTY POUNDS a month in the 1860s!

Then, on May 9th, 1874, Bombay saw its first horse-drawn tram at a princely fare of  THREE ANNAS (in today’s terms Paisa Fifteen) plying the two routes from Colaba to Pydhonie via Crawford Market and from Bori Bunder to Pydhonie via Kalbadevi. As the travel mode became popular, the fare REDUCED TO TWO ANNAS (6 paisa to an anna). Stearns and Kittredge stabled 900 horses for the Tram Service.

It speaks a lot for the trustful naivety of the fledgling company that NO TICKETS were issued. It soon learnt, and later that year tickets were introduced to discourage ticketless travel. Sounds familiar? Old habits die hard!

The rest of the journey in pictures:



















                                                                                                                   ‘CERITA’ CNG



Thus, continues the story of the BEST BUSES through the years

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