Tuesday 4 February 2014

Mumbai Meri Jaan! - Mumbai’s modes of mass transport

Recently some good things have happened in Mumbai with criticism of the traffic jams, crowded roads and pot holes. Earlier it was the Mumbai-Pune Expressway making the drive to Pune smoother, comfortble and faster. Recently, it was the Eastern Freeway which made it possible for people residing in the northern suburbs to reach South Mumbai skipping the traffic jams and signals in 20-25 minutes. It’s a treat to drive on this road. On Sat, 1 Feb 2014, MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan region Development Authority) inaugurated India’s first Monorail in Mumbai at the hands of the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The first phase will cover a distance of 8.93-km with seven stations from suburban Chembur to Wadala depot, which will be later extended up to Jacob Circle on completion of the second phase.

Mumbai has seen changing modes of mass transport over the years. The first passenger train in India ran in Mumbai between Bori Bunder and Thane on April 16, 1853. Since then, the city has reached several milestones in its journey of giving the people efficient and economical mass transport. However the monorail that opened to public on 1 Feb is special not only as a highly modernized means of travel, but also because it is the first mass transport introduced in the city since independence.

Train: Historic run from Bori Bunder to Thane in 1853
First it was the train, around 160 years ago. Mumbai got its first mode of mass transport in the form of trains covering the far ends of suburban Mumbai – Western, Central and Harbour line. The first train ran between Bori Bunder and Thane on April 16. 1853. Then after some years appeared the Electric Multiple Units. With the city’s growing needs, the steam engine-run trains were replaced 
with electric multiple units (EMU) in 1925. The first suburban EMU was introduced in 1925. This was followed by the new age trains. Over the last decade, the trains have seen a major change. The yellow and maroon trains have been replaced with more comfortable, fast and energy-efficient white-purple trains.

Trams: Trams introduced in 1874
Then came the trams in 1874. It was second in popularity to the trains in the last century. The first tram, which was horse-driven, was introduced in Parel and Colaba on May 9, 1874. And next after some yes, was the electric tram. The city got its first electric tram on May 7, 1907. By that time, the length of the city’s tram network was more than 45-km. Double-decker trams were in operation too.

Though the trams were cheap, the trams created  traffic hurdle as the motor vehicles on the roads increased. The authorities thus stopped the service from March 31, 1964. The last tram left Bori Bunder for Dadar at 10 pm.

Buses: BEST rolls out in 1926
The BEST buses were introduced on July 15, 1926. The buses ran from Afghan Church to the Crawford Market, Dadar TT to King’s Circle, and Opera House to Lalbaug. 

The BEST undertaking introduced several types of buses, many of which were phased out later. However the most iconic of them, the double-decker bus, was introduced in 1937. With changing times, the BEST introduced its first air-conditioned bus service in 1998. Replacing its old buses, the BEST slowly introduced the present Cerita and Volvo buses.

With the city expanding, people were open to other modes of transport. This led to the new-age transport system. And the monorail and metro service were preferred.

Monorail: brings a lot of cheers
The monorail on 1 Feb 2004 opened to public, is the first mass transport system introduced after independence. The Mumbai Metropolitan region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to introduce the monorail in 2008 with nine corridors.

Metro: next in line
Mumbai’s first metro is expected to start running between Versova and Ghatkopar in the next couple of months, covering the distance in 25 minutes. Though the MMRDA had planned metro network of 146-km in the Mumbai Metropolitan region in 2004, only 11.4-km stretch is ready. Indian Railway’s technical wing RDSO will test the dynamic behavior of metro trains and conduct emergency trials to check breaking potential. The ministry of railways will give the final approval to the Metro One project after which the service will be open to the citizens.

Apart from the popular black and yellow taxis and blue and silver cool cabs to the 3 wheeler auto rikshaws, and a host of private air-conditioned cabs to buses and trains; Mumbai now has monorail as the new mode of mass transportation with metro following soon promising to make the residents’ journey faster and comfortable.

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