Mumbai – Drive, Design and Connect

Mumbai. Bombay. Bambai. The City that Never Sleeps. Maximum City. Or, as I like to call it, BEST City.

The city of Mumbai, along with its satellite townships of Thane, Navi Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Vasai-Virar, and Kalyan-Dombivali forms the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which is India’s second largest urban agglomeration and largest conurbation in a single state in the country. Other major Metropolitan regions in the country include the Tricity area of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana, and the National Capital Region consisting of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, NOIDA, Ghaziabad, etc. Neither of these two is in a single state unlike the MMR.

However, what makes the MMR unique is the variety that is present across one single state. Maharashtra, being the state with the most decentralised administration, doesn’t control the MMR as much as the local Municipal bodies do. Each Municipal Body controls Transport in its jurisdiction, along with other factors such as water supply, electricity supply etc.

So what maketh Mumbai #MadeOfGreat ???

Roads. Rail. Buses. Beaches. Add to it, we have India’s first open-to-sea Cable-stayed bridge and also are the proud starting point of India’s first Expressway.

So, now, let us go into the nitty-gritties of what makes Mumbai the most amazing city.

Drive

Western Express Highway, Mumbai.
Western Express Highway, Mumbai. Image copyright Nicholas, CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, available at Wikimedia Commons.

Mumbai offers some amazing roads for you to take out your Tata, Toyota, Maruti, and Mercedes. You have the Western Express Highway, Eastern Express Highway, Sion Panvel Highway for your car to stretch its tyres. If you want the scenic route, you have Marine Drive, the Worli Seaface, Bandra Worli Sea Link, Eastern Freeway, Palm Beach Marg, and more. Of course, you do have the Toll Plazas, but if you have a FASTag, you can zip thru with ease. If this wasn’t enough, the city is the only one in India to feature a Road tunnel WITHIN the city! Mumbai also happens to be the city with maximum disciplined traffic. You’ll see people drive neatly in lanes, and give preference to pedestrians. The city also has long Skywalks, mostly connecting Railway stations to other areas, allowing Pedestrians to walk without having to put up with traffic.

DESIGN

Mumbai is probably India’s ONLY Linear city. The core city is divided into two parts, the Island City also known as Town,  and the Suburbs, known as Greater Mumbai. Autos are prohibited in Town, which also houses some of Mumbai’s longest flyovers. Dr. Ambedkar Marg, the southern extension of the Eastern Express Highway features the 2.9km Lalbaugh flyover at Parel, which was built higher than most flyovers to allow the procession of the Lalbughcha Raja during Ganesh Chaturthi. The 2.4km long JJ Road flyover at Byculla was among the first in the country to use Noise barriers. The suburbs have the two main highways, along with SV Road, LBS Marg and numerous link roads such as the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, and the Santacruz Chembur Link Road, which features the city’s first Double Decker flyover.

Navi Mumbai, India’s most amazing planned city was built in the 1970s by the City and Industrial Development Corporation [CIDCO] to decongest Mumbai. It is a planned city, stretching from Airoli in the North to Panvel in the south. It was planned and designed by Charles Correa, and features some amazing railway stations. Vashi station has an IT Park above the tracks, CBD Belapur station has a helipad atop it, and Turbhe Railway station was designed by Hafeez Contractor.

Flyovers in Mumbai feature public paid parking lots below them, or house Traffic Police Stations. The Khodadad Circle flyover, at Dadar Tram Terminus houses a Bus terminus under it. MSRTC’s conductorless Shivneri buses to Pune leave from here.

Transport aside, Mumbai features a lot of amenities and interesting facilities for the humans residing there. It houses two cricket stadiums, Wankhede and Brabourne, a football stadium at Cooperage for all the future Messi’s, and a large Indoor stadium at the National Sports Club of India [NSCI].  It features numerous cultural establishments such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalay, Bhau Da Ji Lad Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery and National Centre for Performing Arts.

CONNECT

Mumbai is home to India’s densest railway network. Comprising 465km of suburban lines, it is spread out across 6 lines. The city has India’s oldest railway network, and the maximum number of Terminus Railway stations. 2342 daily services from 4am to 1am carry approximately 7.5million passengers in a Day! Each train consists of Second Class, First Class, Women’s Second and First class coaches. Mumbai has a combination of trains, some with 9 coaches, some with 12 and some with 15! Air conditioned coaches will be inducted by 2016. Mumbai is the head of two railway zones, Western and Central and houses India’s most magnificent railway terminus, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage structure. It is also the only city that has two Rajdhani Expresses connecting it to Delhi.

 

Mumbai Suburban Railway
Mumbai Suburban Railway. Image copyright Integral Coach Factory, CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, available on Wikimedia Commons.

Mumbai has India’s oldest Public Transport system, in the form of BEST, which has been operational since 1873. It is right to say that Mumbai had Public Transport when the rest of India did not know what Transport meant. The BEST provides buses that connect to all other parts of the city and most of the metropolis. BEST is today, the only Transco apart from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation that operates Double Decker buses, and makes use of the Bell Pull on all its non AC fleet. BEST is also the only transco to feature a single-door Volvo B7RLE.

BEST Bus No. 56 at Versova Yari Road Bus Station.
BEST Bus No. 56 at Versova Yari Road Bus Station. Image copyright Srikanth Ramakrishnan, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

Mumbai also has India’s oldest airport at Juhu as well as the second largest airport in the country, that also has the current tallest Air Traffic Control tower. Again, the city had air transport when the rest of India wanted to know how planes fly. It was from here that JRD Tata first flew in 1932, four years after it opened.

Mumbai Airport as seen from above.
Mumbai Airport as seen from above. Image copyright Andrew Thomas, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Generic, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

India’s first expressway connecting Mumbai and Pune starts from Panvel, while the Eastern Freeway, and Sion Panvel Expressway offer great drives and greater escape routes in the city.

 

Tata Motors has signed up Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador and I think that is a great move!


Zonal War Winner WEST Zone

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The BEST way to Imagica

BEST recently announced that it would ply AC services to Imagica.

Yep, you heard that right. BEST, which has been incurring heavy losses for several years now, has decided it will ply AC buses to Imagica. Apart from this, BEST has managed to get Diamond Traders to sign a ₹80,000 agreement for bus services from Andheri to Seepz.

BEST is also looking at tying up with IPL to provide bus connectivity to stadiums during matches, something that BMTC has been doing for the past few years.

BEST also announced that they were in talks with Essel World to provide buses.

The bus to Imagica leaves from CST at 7am in the morning and costs ₹500 for a round trip. Tickets can be booked the previous night on Imagica’s website.

Now, the question is, what buses is BEST using? Since it is a weekend bus, they can probably use the Volvo on Sunday when AS-4 is not operational.

A BEST Volvo on Route AS-4 from Backbay Depot to Oshiwara Depot.
A BEST Volvo on Route AS-4 from Backbay Depot to Oshiwara Depot. Image copyright Srikanth Ramakrishnan, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

Using them Purple Faeries on this route, would severely ruin BEST’s image as only a handful of them are good, mostly from the Oshiwara Depot.

A BEST Cerita running on route AS 461. Also known as them Mumbai Purple Faeries.
A BEST Cerita running on route AS 461. Image copyright Srikanth Ramakrishnan, licenced under CC-BY-SA 4.0, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

The BEST must not make the BMTC mistake however. BMTC rents out its newer Volvo buses to corporate bodies such as Manayata Embassy Business Park [MEPB] and the Outer Ring Road Companies Association [ORRCA] and leaves the older, much older KA-01-FA series Volvo buses for the public to use. This is a good opportunity for BEST to resurrect the pathetic image that the AC fleet today has earned and replace it with the Premium luxury one that MSRTC enjoys for itself. BEST must ensure that all six Volvo buses don’t go for corporate trips leaving us at the mercy of the Purple Faeries. The Volvo buses must continue running on AS-4 and be used on the Fort Pheri services instead of idling at Backbay Depot. Similarly, BEST can use the AC buses that arrive at Colaba Depot as AS-9 on similar ring routes in SoBo with a subsidised fare to make them lucrative. This is needed, to keep the fleet running.

All said and done, I’m now excited at the prospect of seeing a BEST bus on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and hope to get to click a photograph soon.

Route and schedule

The BEST Bus to Imagica leaves CST at 7.15am. The following are it’s pickup points and their timings:

  1. Mumbai CST at 7.15am. [Bhatia Baug Bus Station]
  2. Bhendi Bazar at 7.25am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  3. Byculla Station at 7.35am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  4. Jai Hind Cinema at 7.45am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  5. Lalbaug at 7.50am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  6. Parel TT at 8.00am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  7. Dadar TT [Khodadad Circle] at 8.10am. [Route No. 1 Bus Stop]
  8. Maheshwari Udhyan at 8.15am. [Route No. 504 Bus Stop]

Arrival at Adlabs Imagica at 10.30am.

Tickets can be booked on the Adlabs Imagica Website.

Buses from Borivali are provided by Neeta Travels. Who knows, this might be BEST soon.

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The Hangman Returns

So, at the beginning of this month, it was announced that CIDCO and NMMC were planning a Cable Ropeway from Shivaji Showk, Vashi Bus Station to Teen Taki Chowk, Kopar Khairane Bus Station.

So, barely two weeks later, it turns out that CIDCO gave an in-principle approval to Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited [TRIL] to prepare a Detailed Project Report [DPR] for the project. If approved, this would be done on the “Swiss Challenge” method, wherein when a tender is floated, in which TRIL will have the right of first refusal and get an opportunity to match the best offer.

Along with this, a new route has been proposed. Now here’s where it gets interesting. The new route, has been proposed from Vashi to Ghatkopar. Yes, you read that right. Vashi to Ghatkopar, across the Thane Creek. The proposal is to connect it to the Metro at Ghatkopar [which seems nearly impossible given that there is no land available near Ghatkopar]. However, it would be marginally easier to connect it to the Monorail. Or better. Connect it to Ghatkopar Depot. Get on to them Purple Faeries on AS-388 to Poisar Depot.

Now, what seems to be the problem here?

  1. Building a set of pillars for a ropeway from Vashi Bus Station to the Vashi Creek.
  2. Building a set of pillars in the wetlands occupied by mangroves on both sides of the creek.
  3. Building a set of pillars on the actual creek.
  4. Crossing the Eastern Express Highway, building in Ghatkopar, and reaching the station.

So at the end of the day, this will be a super problematic thing to build. However, if they are able to build it, I, for one, would be super happy.

The issues here are:

  • Permissions to build over wetlands and the creek itself.
  • Variations in height. Most Ropeways/Cable Cars have a fixed gradient. This stretch would require the alignment to go up and down multiple times.
  • Turns. Again, most systems have a straight route. This one would require zig-zags.

However, the Vashi to Kopar Khairane plan is a brilliant idea. For starters, it would ease traffic on the Trans-Harbour line, the Thane-Belapur Road, as well as the Vashi Bus Station Road. Besides this, it will also provide a brilliant an scenic view of the entire city. While in most parts of Mumbai, the West saw development, in Navi Mumbai, barring Nerul and CBD Belapur, it was mostly the East, along the Highway that grew faster. It’s time to revolutionise our nations’ transport systems, and what better way to do it than the Mumbai Metropolitan Region!

 

 

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Hang Me, Oh Hang Me!

In a new adventurous twist, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation [NMMC], along with the City and Industrial Development Corporation [CIDCO], has proposed a brilliant way to travel from Vashi to Kopar Khairane! Well, what is it you ask? Surprise, surprise, it…. is … a ROPEWAY!

A Ropeway, aka Aerial Tramway, aka Cable Car, is a form of elevated transport where a box is suspended under a cable and moves from end to end. Several exist across India, most notably in hilly areas such as the ones in Darjeeling, Gangtok, Palani, and Raigad Fort.

So, according to MiD-Day, Tata Reality has done a survey on a 5km stretch and pitched the idea to NMMC and CIDCO.

Tata Reality and Infrastructure Limited, TRIL, has also bagged a ₹150crore project to build a 2km Ropeway in the Dharamsala-McLeodganj section.

As many as six stations are being considered on the Stretch from Sector-17 in Vashi to Teen Take Chowk in Kopar Khairane. Currently, the fastest way to traverse this section is by road, and most commuters use autos, share autos and NMMT [AC 121, 123, 125 and others] or BEST [AS 524 and AS 592 and the regulars] buses.

The plan is to set it up initially on this short stretch, connecting Vashi Bus Station and Kopar Khairane Bus Station and then extend it further to different areas as and when required.

Let us now take a quick look at Navi Mumbai, it’s existing Transport system, and try to fit this in.

Navi Mumbai has two railway lines, the Harbour and the Trans-Harbour lines:

  • The Harbour Line connects Panvel to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on the Central Line and Andheri on the Western Line via CBD Belapur, Nerul, Vashi and Chembur.
  • The Trans-Harbour Line connects Turbhe to Thane via Airoli, Rabale, Ghansoli, and Kopar Khairane. The Trans harbour line splits into two south of Turbhe and one joins the Harbour line towards Vashi and CBD Belapur respectively.

There is one Metro Line under construction, connecting CBD Belapur and Taloja via Kharghar and the Central Jail. Apart from this, there is a melee of BEST, NMMT, TMT, KDMT, and KMT buses flowing all over. BEST operates C-52 from Wadala Depot to Kalamboli, while NMMT operates 103 from Dadar to Panvel.

With so many modes of transport criss-crossing Navi Mumbai, one would assume that traveling there would be easy. However, this isn’t exactly the case. Navi Mumbai is vastly spread out. The two most important nodes, Vashi and CBD Belapur are separated by 10km. The former is an important commercial centre, while the latter is important in terms of governance.

The two main lifelines of Navi Mumbai; the Harbour Line and the Sion-Panvel Highway are not enough. The former has only slow rail services and the latter caters mostly to vehicles going from Mumbai to Pune.

Thus, it would be a wise move to welcome the Ropeway. It would be less land-intensive, would provide some good respite to the traffic in the area and would also afford a good view. Having six stations en route, again, a brilliant idea. NMMC and CIDCO can consider multiple routes. In Northern Navi Mumbai, it would help relieve the burden on the Trans-Harbour Line and the Thane-Belapur Road. The sections along the Western side are booming residential areas, while those on the East, like Mahape, Millenium Business Park, Reliance Knowledge Park, are booming business corridors. This would make the Ropeway immensely beneficial to these areas.

A second ropeway can be considered in Southern Navi Mumbai, connecting CBD Belapur with Nerul and Kharghar. The geographical terrain here is very much favourable for a ropeway as it is hilly. This would connect the Jetty at Nerul, the Hoverport at Belapur and the residential colonies at Kharghar. This would also act as a feeder for the Metro.

Right now, if the existing plan to build the Vashi-Kopar Khairane line is complete, it would act like the Mumbai Monorail; an independent mass transit line on one corner of the city, whose purpose would be limited because it isn’t connected well to other parts of the city and other transit systems.

NMMC and CIDCO should ponder upon this.

Note: I posted an update to this post later in the month. Click here to view it.

Navi Mumbai is getting a Ropeway! Click To Tweet

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