Mumbai – Can we save it from daily heart attacks
Don’t you think that if the traffic was eliminated from Mumbai, it would probably be the best city in the country? Situated along the Arabian Sea, Mumbai’s abundance of career opportunities, a mostly pleasant climate, a happening club scene, and the indomitable ‘Mumbai Spirit’ makes it an ideal place to thrive. But Mumbai’s traffic problems are even more exaggerated than cities like Bangalore and Delhi NCR.
The Eastern Express and Western Express Highways along with the Eastern Freeway act as the main arteries of this city, transporting its residents to various corners of Mumbai. And we all know what happens when an artery is blocked! This is exactly what happens to Mumbai during morning and evening peak hours. Our beloved city suffers a myocardial infarction twice daily, almost every day of the week, when the flow of people virtually comes to standstill because the roads are blocked by traffic jams. This has not only weakened the heart of Mumbai but also infected other parts of its body.
Powai, along with surrounding areas of Hiranandani Gardens, Chandivali, L&T colony, parts of JVLR, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Vikhroli make up one of the busiest hubs in the city. People living in this area are privileged because they can have the option of choosing any of the three main highways to reach their destinations. But this is more bane than boon! No doubt all three highways are accessible to Powai residents, but getting out of Powai and onto the highways is a harrowing, traffic-battling daily routine that saps your time and patience.
Mumbai’s traffic problems are not specific to Powai, but its north-eastern positioning causes it the most suffering. Try going to or leaving Powai during the rush hours and you will see that Mumbai’s rule of traffic – only in one direction – doesn’t apply here. Besides being a hub for business, Powai is also a high density residential area. This area witnesses more than 25,000 cars leaving to corporate hubs in Nariman Point, Lower Parel, BKC, Thane, Airoli, Andheri and Malad. Try finding a taxi, Uber, Ola, TFS, Meru, or TAB cab during peak hours; in the most probable scenario, you would not get any!!! And more than 90% of these cars are single occupancy cars. It is no wonder that 87% of road space is occupied to transport only 45% of commuters. r
Compare this to the BEST buses, which transport a similar proportion of people while occupying just 6% of road space!
So then is the solution to Mumbai’s traffic problems for the Government to bring in more buses? How long would that take? Even if buses are available instantly, I highly doubt the upper middle class, car driving, or cab hailing commuters would ever take a bus.
What about the trains, the so called lifeline of Mumbai? They have first class compartments, right? But those who travel by train know the truth. During peak hours there’s absolutely no distinction between the first, general, or luggage compartments. Train journeys also involve the additional headache of getting to the station and travelling from the station to your office. Oh yes, don’t forget about rainy days and the summers when train travel acquaints you with all kinds of smells, sweat, and muck. This is when you wish, with all your heart, you could travel to office in the comfort of an AC car.
So what options are available to regular commuters who do not want to travel by train, are frustrated by the non-availability of cabs, peak hour surcharges, or can’t afford a chauffeur driven car?