The Metro gets a move on. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about two new metro corridors that will run through the western suburbs. The clock has started ticking for the announced Dahisar East to Andheri East and the Dahisar to D N Nagar connection, which has a 2019 completion deadline. Metro commuters will cheer for more lines of course.
The Mumbai Metro connection between Versova and Ghatkopar has cut down travel time. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Denver Rodrigues uses the Metro to travel from his home at JB Nagar to Ghatkopar. He says, “The travel time is reduced considerably and the air-condition is a saving grace.” The fare makes him sweat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Maharastra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnvis conduct 'Bhoomi Pujan' for two new Metro corridors at the Bandra-Kurla Complex which will connect D N Nagar-Andheri and Dahisar-Andheri (E)
The second year BMM (Bachelor of Mass Media) student says, “I pay R 60 from Ghatkopar to JB Nagar and back, daily. This is tough to manage given my pocket money. I wish the Metro offered concessions like the Railways does to students.”
Rodrigues adds that he would like to see Bandra connected to the Metro, soon. “Like the Railways have a well connected network, I hope the Metro also connects places that are in the heart of the city.” My sentiments exactly, says college student Jessica Xalxo, 16, who dreams big and wants to see the Metro link Colaba and Borivali.
“It would be nicer if it would expand out of city limits too. Virar and Thane are tough to get to due to the overcrowded trains. The Metro will ease that.” Wishes are Metro and commuters do ride. Like media professional Vishal Shah, who says, “Thane and the Central suburbs need to be better connected to the centre of the city, I hope the Metro branches ahead and does that.”
Connectivity of course, is the big concern for the Mumbaikar travelling across the city. While commuters dream of the Metro stretching its arms like an octopus, this generation, erudite, educated and well-travelled is demanding more from public services.
Earlier, people took paan-stained station walls, rude staffers and unusable washrooms in their stride. But young India wants more. Xalxo adds, “The Metro stations have clean washrooms and good, cost effective eating joints. Separate compartments reserved for ladies are always a little less crowded than others, making it a comfortable commute.”
Agreeing with her, Velington Pinto, who lives near the Western Express Highway (WEH), goes by the QSC barometer, which means measuring the efficacy of a commuting arm by seeing it passes the Quick, Safe, Convenient test.
Pinto says, “It is a QSC commute to Versova or Ghatkopar. I would like to see telephones on stations for emergencies, though some people continue to litter and spit. These can be used to complain and nab them.” Andheri’s Lira Pinto, 19, says peak hour travel is still a bit of a challenge but the air-conditioning and time saved makes the jam worth the while.
Commuters though feel that the next phase can look at some niggling problems here, and try and eliminate them at inception. Tassavur Shaikh, who uses the Metro to get to his Saki Naka office says, “Long queues for men during peak hours at the security check can be easily reduced by having unisex booths. Loud audio ads playing in compartments are irritating. Clear demarcation of seats reserved for senior citizens is needed, too. The Metro already hit its maximum capacity during peak hours. Perhaps a bogie or two can be added to reduce stress.”
With environment-friendly being the buzzword, Shaikh adds that issuing paper receipts as tokens must stop. “It wastes paper, when everything is already computerised. Ensure escalators are for going up and not coming down. Climbing the stairs is difficult for a lot of people.” Xalxo would like the frequency of the Metro to increase. “As of now, it arrives every six minutes. If they changed seating arrangement and make it like local train compartments for the next phase, more people could be seated in every bogie,” says Xalxo.
Comparing the Mumbai Metro to its Delhi counterpart, Shah says, “The security is weak. Sometimes, the guards are too bored to frisk people. In Delhi, the security system is very strict; Mumbai should emulate it. I would like to see better integration with the local trains and buses.” Shaikh does not stop at Delhi. He compares the Mumbai Metro with foreign Metros. “The Singapore Metro is connected to bus stops. In Mumbai, we need them connected to train stations as well.”
Nitin Dossa, executive chairman, Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) rounds off the discussion saying, “We are moving in the right direction, but I would like to see the foundation stone being laid for a Metro line that brings people right into the city, like it does in Delhi. The airport to town corridor will decongest the city of considerable traffic, almost 75,000 cars every day. Today’s commuter is looking for an international style commute. It is only then that we will leave behind our cars because it will give us all the three Cs — Comfort, Convenience and Connectivity.” Riders on the Metro dream to travel in peace, something rather hard to experience when stuck wrestling with a steering wheel.