Actor Dino Morea along with Ketan Kadam to start Victoria buggies in Mumbai
A first ride of the e-Victorias will be started by actor Dino Morea along with entrepreneur Ketan Kadam on the old route on Sept 1
Once a common sight, adding a bit of colonial imagery to the streets of South Bombay, horse-drawn carriages, or Victoria buggies — as they were popularly called, disappeared from the city in 2015 following a ban under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Now, we hear, there's a blast from the past on the cards, as early as September 1. mid-day takes a ride on one to let you know exactly what to expect.
In a new avatar, these carriages are making a comeback under a joint venture, UBO Ridez, by entrepreneur Ketan Kadam and '90s model and actor Dino Morea. Powered by 60 volts lithium ion batteries and with a 20-kmph speed, these e-carriages will cover the same routes the Victorias once operated on. "A lot of people were unemployed when the buggies were banned, but a certain heritage was lost, too. I have seen this e-carriages takeover worldwide. In fact, even the mayor of New York has announced that Central Park will switch to electric horse carriages," Kadam says, adding that the project was in the works for the past year-and-a-half.
Ketan Kadam (at the wheel), Dino Morea and mid-day's reporter enjoy a ride on an E-Victoria
Modelled around Victoria buggies, the only thing missing here are the horses. First 40 carriages will operate at tourist locations like Nariman Point, Gateway of India and Chowpatty. "However, in a month, we will request to expand the routes, because, unlike horse-drawn carriages, electric buggies can navigate in heavy-traffic areas. We want to take this to the suburbs too," Kadam reveals, adding that e-buggies will have an additional hop-on, hop-off option.
The ride will also come with Bluetooth speakers for riders to enjoy their own music. They will also be equipped with a GPS-triggered audio tour — if the carriage arrives at the Gateway of India, the feature will detect the location and recite its history in customer's choice of language. The rides will cost between R300 and R500 for five people, with free rides being offered on the first two days of the launch. Qualified as a green initiative, e-carriages are likely to boost tourism, said Kadam, adding that they have received wholehearted support from the Transport Department. "It also solves the problem of rehabilitating the out-of-job carriage riders who will be given first priority,"
Morea, explaining what drew him to the venture, says, "Kadam and I go back a long way and this was interesting and nostalgic. We are trying to introduce e-vehicles in a small way, and the best part is there is no animal cruelty involved." Before this intriguing new ride hits the roads sometime in the first week of September, we tested it at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. Although most of the features like the Bluetooth speakers and the audio tour are yet to be installed, we found the ride pretty smooth, minus the familiar trotting of an actual horse-drawn carriage. It seemed to intrigue onlookers, too, and Kadam invited two kids present at the racecourse to hop on. Kadam, a father of a five-year-old, is hoping to make this a worthy addition for parents to experience with their children. With its royal appearance and wow factor, this seems like just the kind of thing to draw attention, and if all goes well, perhaps do spectacularly well, too.
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