BKC gets a Gold Coin

Bandra Kurla Complex, known to most people as BKC, the new financial hub of Mumbai,and also the site of the Make in India Centre recently, has got a bonus Gold Coin in terms of transport.

Tata Starbus has bagged an order for its new Diesel-Electric Hybrid AC bus from the MMRDA. These buses will be operated by BEST as part of their fleet, thus complementing their existing AC fleet.

Tata Motors becomes the first Indian manufacturer to bag the single largest order for 25 Tata Starbus Diesel Electric Hybrid Bus from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The route connects Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) to Sion, Bandra and Kurla railway stations supporting millions of commuters every day. This city bus is economically viable & eco-friendly - certified by ARAI.
Tata Motors bags order for 25 Tata Starbus Diesel Electric Hybrid Bus from the MMRDA. Image copyright Tata Motors.

As per a notification on MMRDA’s website, these buses will be owned by MMRDA, maintained by Tata Motors for a period of five years and operated by BEST. Further, they will operate in dedicated bus lanes within BKC, connecting the District to Bandra Railway Station, Kurla Railway Station and Sion Railway Station.

These buses are set to be a game changer. The reasons being:

Now coming to Kurla and Sion Stations.

Sion station is set to get a massive makeover. The road bridge connecting Dharavi /LBS Marg to Rani Laxmi Chowk that houses the entrance to the station is set to be demolished to make way for the Fifth and Sixth railway lines connecting Ghatkopar to CST. This means that the station entrance will be shifted, and is good news in the long run.

Kurla Station [West] is the proposed site for MMRDA for the Station Area Transit Improvement Scheme [SATIS], which will see an elevated platform for buses and autos, similar to the structure at Thane Station West.

The new buses will mostly be housed at BEST’s newest depot, the Kala Killa Depot [KK] which was earlier an empty plot adjacent to the Dharavi Depot where buses of the Kurla Depot were parked during its reconstruction. The depot became operational on 31st January 2016.

Another major project for BKC is a ropeway. After CIDCO proposed a ropeway between Vashi and Kopar Khairane and Vashi and Ghatkopar, the MMRDA has now proposed a new ropeway connecting Kurla and BKC. The ropeway has been considered on this route given the congestion and taking land availability as well.

Another update on this stretch is from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited [MMRCL].

Amidst all controversy and outrage from Environmentalists and the National Green Tribunal [NGT], the latter of which has failed to do its duty and rakes up controversy needlessly, the MMRCL has silently been doing a good job in acquiring land for the underground Metro which will connect Colaba, Cuffee Parade, BKC Mumbai International Airport and SEEPZ.

With all these updates, the city’s newest Business District is all set to be given the premium connectivity it deserves.

BEST is going one level beyond with Hybrid buses for BKC Click To Tweet

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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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