Today, July 8 the Mumbai Metro completes one month since its launch. Commuters, rickshaw drivers, bus conductors, hotel owners near the metro stations talk about how the city's newest transport arm has transformed their lives
The Mumbai Metro which took eight years to be made, was launched with great fanfare by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on June 8.
The new means of travel takes minimum time, according to commuters. Pic/Rane Ashish
A promotional fare of Rs 10 to any place on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro stretch meant many Mumbaikars were taking the metro for a joy ride. From serpentine queues for tickets to jam packed metros, the metro has had large scale ramifications for a cross-section of people.
Three years ago, when Paresh Tiwari was offered a huge sum of money to sell his small Udipi restaurant named Shri Krishna near the Western Express Highway he was very tempted to sell. Tiwari says, "The money was good and I was ready to sell.
Now rickshaws are finding it difficult to get fares in metro areas. Pic/Amit Jadhav
But then, I sat and thought for a while. The metro was under construction and a station was being made near my restaurant. I understood that having an eatery near the metro station would be a great business opportunity."
Tiwari adds, "I invested in renovation, a total makeover and new staff and cooks. From a simple restaurant, I revamped it to a sophisticated one. It took six months, but now I am reaping the rewards. I now get a huge crowd; it was worth every penny spent."
The metro has been a blessing for many in the city. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The metro benefit seems to have boosted Firdaus Kader Khan's business, too. Khan who owns a bakery near the Saki Naka metro station says, "I have my cook make more vegetable and chicken rolls as people who get off, come here to buy snacks as the rate is very economical at Rs 12 and Rs 15 per roll.
People on their way to work or those heading back home come here to grab a bite. I earlier made Rs 3,000 to 5,000 per day. Now my earnings cross Rs 10,000 per day." Pooja Kapoor, a metro usher whose job it is to see that people do not get too close to the tracks says, "My husband who was the only breadwinner passed away some months ago, leaving me to take care of our daughter.
The No> 340 bus is now empty, thanks to the metro being used by commuters. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
It was difficult to get a job, but the Mumbai Metro has provided me with a means of sustenance. People are often unruly and refuse to listen. But on the whole I enjoy my job."
Shahrukh Mirza, 32, says commuting to his office at Ghatkopar from Four Bungalows, Andheri (W) has become easy now. The real estate agent says, "I would call the metro a huge blessing as it is super fast, convenient and a great means of travel for me from home to work and back."
From noise levels to peeping toms, those living near the metro have a few complaints. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
"Changing buses and literally chasing after autos to get to college has been a problem I've had to face for the last two years. But now with the metro taking me from my house at Marol to college in Andheri West, for the last month travelling has been largely a trouble-free affair," says Tara Pujary, 18, a Bhavan's College student.
The crowd at peak hours when she travels and there not being a separate ladies compartment have been the downside of the metro for Pujary. She says, "The crowd is sometimes so much that I have to leave a train. The rains also have caused the stations and the trains to leak so there are issues, but the metro has solved more problems than it has created."
There has been a 100 per cent rise in the number of metro commuters. Pic/Nimesh Dave
William Watson, an English citizen who works at the international airport says, "My accommodation is at Amboli, now I use the metro to get to work. The buses and rickshaws are too congested making me sweat a lot. The air-conditioned metro which is also fast-paced, has sorted my travelling woes.
With the rains starting in the city, the metros have been running late and there is some leakage that I have observed with water on the track, too. I am hoping the authorities solve the monsoon issues soon, so commuters can travel hassle free. "
For students of Smt Parmeshwaridevi Durgadutt Tibrewala and Shriniwas Bagarkar colleges at JB Nagar, Andheri (E) paying attention in class has become an issue. Rahul Patil, 20, a student of commerce at Bagarkar College says, "The metro station is near our college and in class, we can hear the announcements and get disturbed.
It is very annoying as we are unable to concentrate. We try closing the windows to reduce the noise, but it isn't very helpful." Poorna Prabhu, 18 Tibrewala College student says, "From my house at Versova, every day I had to spend R 120 and waste an hour to get to JB Nagar.
Now I reach in 10 minutes by metro. But in class I have to deal with the negatives of the metro. Paying attention is really tough as the noise of the passing metro trains and the announcements at the station are too much of a distraction."
When the metro passes MV Road in Andheri (E), students of Divine Child High School pay more attention outside than to lectures in class. Mary Devraj who teaches the fifth standard says, "I have to continually compete with the passing metro which goes by every three minutes in each direction.
The new academic year has started, and so the students have just come from the primary to the secondary and are already trying to cope with changes. The metro is an added distraction."
Closing the windows is not an option for the English and Social Studies teacher who adds, "The children need fresh air and so the windows have to be kept open. The noise of the metro forces me to raise my voice. On days that I have two continuous lectures, I have a bigger challenge, causing me to suffer from a sore throat, often. Completing my portion is going to be tough."
Parishioners of Holy Family Church which is close to the metro tracks also find it difficult to pay attention during mass. Alice D'Souza, 50, from the parish says, "During mass I've seen many people especially children turning back and looking at the metro pass especially when the priests are giving sermons.
The colourful coaches arrest the eye and many get easily distracted. It is not too noisy, but the movement is a huge distraction. The piety of people in our parish has been affected."
At the most crowded metro stations Ghatkopar, Andheri and Versova the escalators cause delays. Tushar Ingle, 45, a commuter who travels between DN Nagar and Ghatkopar says, "Most people are scared of escalators and so getting them to use it to enter and exit the station is a problem. After the metro reaches a huge crowd gathers near the escalators with people jostling to step on the escalators."
Madhavi Pradhan, 31 who travels between Versova and Alsafa says, "The metro doesn't have women's compartment and men often are very close and push in the compartment which is very troublesome. On the escalators too, people tend to purposely fall, shove and get too touchy-feely. When you confront these people they blame the shaking metro or the fast-moving escalator, fighting with them is worthless."
Bus and rickshaw galore
The 340 bus that plies from Andheri station to Ghatkopar which was earlier always overcrowded, is now surprisingly empty. Says Satyavahan Patil, a bus conductor, "Earlier, the bus was so crowded that all my time would go in giving out tickets.
From Andheri to Ghatkopar as many as 500 tickets were given and I had to keep changing the ticket paper roll. But now after the metro has started the bus is less crowded. I am able to sit and rest. The ticket count is down to 200."
Padma Sasikala, 45, a Marol resident says, "The BEST buses are less crowded and rickshaws also are easy to get, thanks to the metro. For me, the metro isn't very useful as the station is far from my house, so a bus or rickshaw that I can get outside my door is preferable.
Travelling has become more convenient now as rickshaws never refuse." Sharad Kirloskar, an auto rickshaw driver says, "Ghatkopar to Andheri fares have been greatly affected by the metro. People now don't want to take a rickshaw, they prefer the metro. I have now stopped refusing as my income has reduced due to drop in fares."
More about the metro
>> The Mumbai Metro is India's first public-private partnership metro project in which all the three phases (construction, operation and maintenance) were given to a private player.
>> It connects Versova, Andheri in the Western suburbs to Ghatkopar in the Eastern suburbs, covering a distance of 11.4 kilometres. It is fully elevated and has 12 stations.
>> The system is designed to reduce traffic congestion in the city, and supplement the existing, but severely overcrowded Mumbai Suburban Railway network.