There is no denying that Bombay (or Mumbai, take your pick!) is well-connected with public transportation. And it’s a good thing it is because with over ten million people commuting on a daily basis, anything less than well-connected would spell disaster.
Come to think of it, the transportation system of the city is perhaps one of the contributors to it’s success. Three local railway lines, a robust local bus service and plethora of private cabs ferry hordes of people in every which way!
But despite the presence of the nation’s most envied public transportation system, there are a few complaints from this humble blogger. Here are some of my observations –
1. Black and Yellow ain’t Mellow
The ubiquitous B&Y Premier Padminis may be there when you need to grab a quick ride but they are definitely not the most comfortable rides! Sitting in the cab, with a headroom which was designed for the Oompa Loompas,people like me (for the record I am 6 ft tall!) end up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame after a 30 minute journey. Not to mention that some of these cabs have probably not been cleaned since maybe 1984 and are probably the worst pollutants on the streets!
And of course the rodent-like auto-rickshaws are no different, maybe even worse!
Private taxi-cab companies like Meru and Maxi Cab have brought some respite with their fleet of Mahindra Logans, Maruti Esteems and Tata Indicas, but we still have a long way to go before the ‘phiats’ are displayed at the museum!
2. tRAIN,tRAIN Everywhere!
Now here is a service that is absolutely top notch. With three separate tracks covering almost every major area of the metropolis and a train leaving a major station every 4-5 minutes, the Mumbai local train is considered one of Asia’s best. But that’s where the laurels begin to wither,for although the trains and the frequency are fabulous, the stations and the people who use them, are far from it. Major stations like Andheri and Dadar are, to be euphemistic, disorganized and dirty. But you can’t really blame just the authorities for that mess, because the commuters are the ones who need to be educated about civic sense and cleanliness.
But what really pisses me off are the commuters who feel that they have earned the right to disturb other fellow commuters with their high-pitched bhajan sessions or group card games or occasional reservation of seats for com padres.
Well at least on the station front, there seems to be some pro-active action by the powers that be, with new stations being endowed with amenities akin to those found at train stations in developed countries. The people, well they are a different story!
3.BEST for the Last
The BEST buses are famous for the driver’s knack to squeeze the double-decker red and white buses through some of the most narrowest lanes of the city. But when it comes to halting at the actual bus-stop, that ability seems to take a back-seat literally!
Both the conductor and the driver always seem to be in a hurry, as if racing at the Monaco Grand Prix and never allow passengers to board the bus peacefully. I’ve actually noticed instances where people have been forced to leave the bus, not due to lack of space but due to the fact that bus has already started moving ahead! I mean what is the freaking urgency! And when will the driver learn to halt the bus next to the bus stop, not in middle of the road ahead of the designated bus stop.
Although we have some fresh new buses with central air-conditioning and handicap friendly facilities, the cure still lies in educating the people who matter!