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Transport: The way we Mumbaikars travel

SUNDAY MID DAY 32nd Anniverary Special, Mumbai

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2010: A woman’s journey on the rails
Thirty-four-year-old Priti Kumari creates history as she drives a local train from Churchgate to Borivli. In October 2010, Kumari is Western Railway’s first motorwoman in the 143 years it has been running Mumbai’s suburban railway network. Although Central Railway’s Surekha Yadav is Asia’s first motorwoman to pilot its suburban trains, Kumari is the first to have been directly recruited. A graduate of History and an electrical engineer, Kumari hails from Bihar and had always wanted to do something different. Well, she did it!


History is made when 34-year-old Priti Kumari drives a local train from Churchgate to Borivli in 2010. Pic/Rane Ashish

1980: New terminal for foreign traffic
The International Airport Authority of India (IAAI), which was set up in 1972, starts planning the construction of a new terminal building for handling international passenger traffic. Soon construction of the new international terminal at Sahar to the north-east of Santacruz is taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 110 million.

1992: Navi Mumbai gets a railway line
There was a time when commuting till Navi Mumbai was a distant dream, thanks to a lack of proper transport mode. But with the construction of a railway line from Mankhurd to Vashi in May 1992, commuters from Navi Mumbai to the island city heave a sigh of relief. Soon these suburbs evolve as a popular residential and economic hub.

2007: Women cab service launches
Women cab drivers are no more a thing of the past as Forshe and Priyadarshini women’s taxi service come into existence in 2007. Started with an initiative to give employment to women earning less than Rs 10,000 a month, this service not only paves way for employment to women but also ensures security to other women commuters in the city.

Then & Now

Ashok Datar, convenor, Mumbai transport forum

‘More cars, high rises, flyovers’
As far as private cars are concerned, it’s the 1980s that were a really interesting time. It was in 1983 that Maruti cars were introduced in India. Before that people used to drive Ambassadors and Fiats. The introduction of Maruti cars is also associated with winds of globalisation. It was a good car to own, it didn’t rattle and it was easy to change gears. But the side effect was that there were just too many cars on the roads.

Ashok Datar

Meanwhile, housing started becoming expensive and people moved to high rises away from railway stations, which led them to own cars. If they stayed near, they would take public transport and travel in trains. Since there were more cars on the roads, there was shortage of bus space. There was a marked shift from public transport to private transport, as public transport has not kept pace with the kind of growth and kind of commuters now.

The city, from 2000 onwards, has become car-centric. All our aspirations and investments are driven towards that. So we have built the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and so many flyovers. But this is all for the benefit of cars, not for public transport. As for the Mumbai Metro and Monorail, they are yet to be born.

In the 1970s, there had been talk of surface trains between Bandra and Kurla, so that there is East-West connectivity. We are still building Santacruz-Chembur Link Road that was conceived in the 1960s. We could have definitely built train connections between these places, as in the early days, there would have been no problem acquiring land.

Instead, we have more cars on the roads. We have to commute longer distances and spend more money to drive our luxurious cars. If a good East-West connectivity had been built in the last 30 years, Mumbai would have been a lot different. 

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