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Mumbai Metro effect: BEST loses 11,000 commuters a day

Commuters from Versova to Ghatkopar opt for the new rail; auto drivers, too, say they have lost a chunk of their passengers

Mumbaikars have embraced the newly opened Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro in huge numbers, having finally got a mode of transport that doesn’t take them hours to cross the suburban divide. Their new preference has cost BEST and auto rickshaws dearly.

The Metro has taken some load off S V Road in Andheri, usually chock-a-block with traffic. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The Metro has taken some load off S V Road in Andheri, usually chock-a-block with traffic. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Over 5 lakh people have travelled by the Metro since it was inaugurated on Sunday, and there has been considerable drop in the number of users of BEST buses and auto rickshaws. Sources in the BEST said that at least 11,000 of its daily commuters between Versova and Ghatkopar have seem to have abandoned it in favour of the Metro.

There are more than 20 different bus routes both from Andheri bus stations (west and east) and Ghatkopar. Many of these bus routes were seen to be running empty even during the morning and evening peak hours. While authorities feel this isn’t exactly an exodus and that many were just going for a joyride, the undertaking is now thinking of operating feeder routes to make up for the loss.

“Our buses will complement the Metro rail, for which we are assessing the locations from where feeder routes can be operated,” said a BEST official. Authorities estimate the drop in passengers to be at least 25 per cent of the total passengers in and around the Versova-Ghatkopar corridor.

No one to refuse
Auto rickshaw drivers, notorious for passenger refusals and rude behaviour, have been badly hit as well. Outside Andheri and Ghatkopar stations, they have been seen taking commuters to whatever place the latter wish to go to an unprecedented sight, to say the least. Share auto drivers, too, have had to make adjustments.

“We have reduced the fare from Rs 20 to Rs 15 for share rickshaws going towards Sakinaka and Marol,” said Rajendra Tiwari, a driver from Andheri (East). Prior to the Metro, drivers claim they made at least 35 trips per day between Andheri (West) station and Versova. This number has now reduced to half.

Thampy Kurian, general secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union, however, denied any loss in business, saying, “There is hardly any effect on our business. We are a point-to-point service and take passengers right outside their doorstep, unlike the Metro.”

Kurian added he hasn’t got complaints from drivers about business being lean due to the Metro. He claims that the reduction, if any, may be seen on routes like Andheri-Kurla Road and Andheri-Versova stretch. Union leaders also hinted that drivers would flock to other parts of the suburbs where demand still persists.

Commuters say

Naresh Patil, ad agency professional
It’s wonderful that we have the Metro. Earlier, I’d board a train from Kalyan to Ghatkopar, and wait in queue for an auto or bus for Andheri (East). Now, I simply get down at Ghatkopar and reach office in around 20 minutes.

Commuter, from Four Bungalows in Andheri (West)
The buses starting from Andheri (West) bus station seemed less crowded than usual.

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