Interview with Sudhir Badami: How transport in Mumbai is evolving

Traffic in Mumbai
Mumbai is the fifth most traffic-congested metropolis on the earth. Pic credit score: CommGlobal UVA, Flickr, (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

For years now, Mumbaikars have travelled on roads via barricades exclaiming, “Mumbai is upgrading.” After 8 years of ready, town lastly witnessed the outcomes of metro building that exposed itself on April 2nd, with the launch of the metro traces 2A and seven, between Dahisar and DN Nagar and Dahisar and Andheri East respectively.

By the top of 2025, the Mumbai Metropolitan Area Growth Authority (MMRDA) has promised a 200 km lengthy community of the Mumbai metro. Throughout the north-south and east-west axis, Line 2A, 2B, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 are anticipated to hold hundreds of thousands of commuters throughout the metropolis and past.

Technical upgrades are additionally underway, at a quicker tempo than the bodily ones. This week, the Authorities of Maharashtra launched the Nationwide Frequent Mobility Card (NCMC) within the metropolis, which can be utilized throughout BEST buses, railways, metros and different public transport modes. Together with it are 20 digital-only buses that can permit entry solely utilizing good playing cards or the Chalo cellular app. The app provides live-tracking of the buses, which is able to progressively section out to an all-electric fleet.

Other than public transport, different infrastructure additions are additionally being laid. A number of main roads, together with the coastal street, Mumbai trans-harbour hyperlink street, Goregaon-Mulund hyperlink street, are in building.

To know the consequences of those modifications on the way forward for transport in Mumbai, Citizen Issues spoke to move analyst Sudhir Badami, a veteran in Mumbai’s transport committees. Sudhir was a member of the Bombay Excessive Courtroom committee to make the railways protected and pleasant for individuals with incapacity. He was additionally a member of Municipal Company of Better Mumbai’s (MCGM) assume tank on site visitors and transportation points in Mumbai. Under is an edited interview with him.

This month, Mumbai noticed two new metro traces begin operations, albeit partially, after a niche of 8 years. What sort of distinction do you assume the deliberate metro community may have on commuting and public transport in Mumbai within the coming years?

Enable me to indulge up to now just a bit bit. In 2004, MMRDA unveiled the 146.5 km Mumbai Metro Grasp Plan of 9 traces (MMMP-2004), at a complete estimated value of Rs 19,500 Crore. The cupboard of Authorities of Maharashtra permitted it with nice enthusiasm, and the 11.4 km lengthy Line 1 between Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar started building in 2006. It commenced operations on June eighth, 2014. The trains had been designed to have six coaches, every with a capability of 300 passengers and frequency of three minutes, giving a peak time capability of 36,000 folks per hour per route (PPHPD) . In actuality, frequency has been 4-8 minutes with 4 coaches solely, thereby giving a capability of lower than 18,000 PPHPD.

The capability has not been enhanced up to now 8 years, probably due to the excessive value of rolling inventory of the metro, regardless of the scope and wish. The remaining commuters are left to undergo packed suburban trains, with densities as excessive as 16 individuals per sq. metre (when the appropriate norm is 6 individuals per sq m).

The MMRDA labored on grander plans for Mumbai’s mass speedy transport system (MRTS), holding the metro as a key mode of transport. Some traces of the MMMP-2004 had been rerouted after the Complete Transport Examine Report of 2008 (CTS-2008). It highlighted that the best passenger load is between Andheri and Borivali, with density being excessive upto Virar. So it was pure that the northern sections of Line 2A and Line 7 be prioritised, and adopted by their southern sections inside six to eight months. They elevated the routes to 14 within the new plan MMMP-2015, going upto 193 km past the bounds of MCGM.

With this, it’ll positively be a a lot safer and cozy commuting expertise for the commuters of Mumbai and MMR, offered sure points are addressed. In any other case one can count on automotive and two-wheeler customers to proceed utilizing their private automobiles, and there received’t be respite from street congestion.

Metro line 1, 2A and 7 map, the newest lines adding to the transport in Mumbai
A map of the metro traces 1, 2A and seven, which can be totally operational within the subsequent 5 months. Pic credit score: Sabah Virani

The most recent traces 2A and seven are anticipated to cut back the site visitors on the parallel Western Specific Freeway by 20% and carry 12 lakh folks each day by 2031. Do you assume this can be a cheap forecast?

The most recent traces first must be accomplished in order that they attain the prevailing Metro Line 1 for folks to achieve the employment centres of MIDC and SEEPZ in better consolation and comfort. Concurrently, the complete potential of Line 1 should be put in place to draw non-public automobile customers. The proverbial first and last-mile connectivity ought to be obtainable adequately. Solely then the forecast of diminished street congestion and ridership is affordable.

What are the make-or-break elements that can determine the success of the metro community – final mile connectivity, accessibility, route, or one thing else? What steps can the metro take to make sure success?

Better Mumbai is a perfect metropolis for working an MRTS, such because the metro, as a result of it’s compact and extremely dense. The 250 km suburban rail community together with 193 km of proposed metro rail community throughout the MCGM, Thane and Mira-Bhayandar municipal areas kind a reasonably properly unfold out MRTS community, reaching huge areas accessible by stroll from stations. But, there can be areas that want first and last-mile connectivity, and in the long term, it’ll decide in depth use of the metro.

For the reason that stations are to be accessible by stroll, it is usually important to make sure that strolling infrastructure is protected and cozy.

Learn extra: Mumbai Metro progress replace: What’s on the playing cards?

Will the metro lower the burden on the railways considerably?

Assuming that the MRTS via the metro operates safely, shortly and comfortably, many customers – even those that personal or have the capability to personal vehicles – are prone to shift, decreasing the load on the railways considerably. If the fare construction for the metro in all fairness low, many extra will shift relying on comfort. Nonetheless, that time is nowhere within the close to future. We can not count on a discount in rail congestion for 2 or three generations.

We’re seeing a better technological integration in public transport, with digital-only buses and the power to guide metro tickets via WhatsApp. What are your ideas on this – is it only a pure development or will it create issues with accessibility?

All walks of life have gotten digitally managed nowadays and can proceed to take action, with or with out smartphones. These technological integrations will solely assist overcome shortcomings in transport however is not going to clear up the problems. Getting tickets digitally or understanding when the subsequent bus will come (with the Chalo app) doesn’t clear up the actual downside of congestion. We’ve to match the peak-time hourly capability with the peak-time hourly load.

Double decker bus Mumbai
BEST introduced it will section out the double-decker by 2023, however will carry them again with 900 electrical AC double-decker buses as an alternative. Pic credit score: Andrés Romanos, Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The metro is dearer than the railways and BEST, and we’ve seen folks select the bus over the metro when its fare was slashed to Rs 5 in 2019. Will the fee have an effect on its ridership?

We can not disregard the truth that 40-50% of Mumbai lives in slums. The metro is pricey and the restoration of funding can not occur via fare assortment alone. Individuals will go for the metro primarily based on what works for his or her wallets, time, consolation and security. Individually, folks can even take a look at their present general commuting bills (financial and time) and the way the graduation of metro operations will alter/improve them.

The BEST buses stay overburdened. Why do you assume that continues, and the way can the journey of the customers be made higher?

BEST slashed its fare in 2019 and launched smaller and AC buses, enabling entry to roads to the suburban railway stations in addition to roads narrowed as a result of metro building. Shared rickshaws and taxis have change into costlier compared, and that’s attracting extra folks to the buses than earlier. Smaller buses have made BEST operations extra environment friendly.

The journey of bus customers can absolutely be made higher with revolutionary concepts.

Alongside the concentrate on public transport, Mumbai can also be seeing the development of main roads, just like the coastal street and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Hyperlink (MTHL). Are these upgrades in street infrastructure obligatory, and is the BMC and MMRDA going about it properly?

It’s little doubt that some street constructions, such because the MTHL connecting the MMR mainland and the densely populated business metropolis of Mumbai, are obligatory. The Coastal Street too will join completely different areas of Mumbai at good speeds all the way in which to Vasai-Virar, which is a pure development centre from a producing, commerce and enterprise perspective. This centre, just like the Navi Mumbai areas the place building of the brand new airport (NMIA) is underway, will get excessive velocity connectivity. The place the coastal street undertaking is anxious, it is likely to be a good suggestion to supply leisure house alongside the seaside for folks.

The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) under construction
The work on the Mumbai Trans Harbour Hyperlink (MTHL), connecting Mumbai to Navi Mumbai in 20 minutes, is predicted to complete by September 2023. Pic credit score: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Are folks shifting away from public transport in Mumbai? The MMRDA metropolitan commissioner mentioned the proportion share of public transport use has fallen to 9-10% of the overall. Does town want a method to extend its public transport use?

If we perpetually preserve speaking of offering public transport but do nothing to carry it into actuality, those that are prosperous will proceed to go for the consolation of their air-conditioned vehicles. Since 2017, we’ve seen wiser planning and implementing of public transport, MMMP-2015 being one. So there’s hope that the general public transport person share will enhance to its authentic glory.

What’s the largest hole in commute in Mumbai at this time in keeping with you? How can or not it’s fastened?

The most important hole in commute in Mumbai at this time is the height time capacities of MRTS. The suburban railways carry about 3,60,000 individuals per hour (PPH) at peak time, in keeping with the CTS-2008, although not uniformly so. However its capability is about 1,80,000 PPH. Over 2,500 folks die yearly due to the overcrowded trains.

The metro was proposed to cut back congestion on roads and within the suburban trains, and whereas it has shorter routes, they transcend the attain of the railway. If we assume they’ve 8 coaches and run at a peak frequency of three minutes, the utmost hourly capability can be 1,80,000 PPH within the Dahisar-Thane to Bandra-Mankhurd band, nearly touching the wanted capability. Hopefully these can be operational by 2031.

However like in Metro Line 1, not one of the traces can be operated with their full design capacities. The extra capability will scale back a number of the railway’s load, however attaining the goal of 1,80,000 PPH will take for much longer than 2031. Within the north-south route, there can be a capability scarcity of 1,50,000 PPH over and above the deliberate 50,000 PPH from Metro Strains 2A, 4 & 7. Even after spending a lot cash, it is not going to scale back street congestion and air air pollution.

Offering the complete capacities wanted by any mode of public transport is pressing. As per the detailed figures in varied metro paperwork, the wanted capability is not going to be achieved any time quickly by the metro alone. Pushing a bigger variety of automotive customers to undertake public transport shortly is pressing, and attainable if one designs and implements a Bus Speedy Transit System (BRTS) shortly. And it’s attainable, as a result of the price of a BRTS is lower than 10% of the general metro value, as is the time wanted for implementation.

Notice: Sure parts of the interview have been tweaked or additional elaborated upon put up publishing, as requested by the interviewee, within the curiosity of readability and accuracy.

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