With Mumbai’s monorail incurring huge operational losses because of a poor response from commuters, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to increase the number of daily trips, starting from March. Experts say the move will only add to the losses incurred by the monorail.
MMRDA officials say that at present, 130 trips are operated every day, at intervals of 15 minutes. From March, however, the number of trips will rise to 162, with a service every 12 minutes.
MMRDA also plans to subsequently increase the frequency of services to one every nine minutes, which, MMRDA sources say, will lead to more losses.
At present, MMRDA is incurring losses in the range of Rs 10-Rs 12 lakh every day, with commuters giving it a wide berth and the fares remaining low. The losses may reach Rs 15 lakh, once the number of services is increased, predict officials.
“We expect more commuters will start using the monorail if the frequency is increased. We took the the decision after commuters requested us to do so. We are aware that the operating losses will increase, but none of the public transport modes in the country are making profits,” said a senior MMRDA official, requesting anonymity. At present, the monorail operates between 6.45am and 10pm.
Transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, “More services may encourage commuters to use the monorail. However, MMRDA should increase its operation hours from early morning to late night, and ensure proper connectivity with other modes of transport, to attract more commuters, in order keep operating losses in check.”
Keeping the assembly elections in mind, the previous Congress-led state government had reduced monorail fare from Rs 9-20, which had been decided, to Rs 5-11. This had severe repercussions on revenue collections.
MMRDA had thrown open the first phase of the monorail, from Chembur to Wadala in February last year, but the services have received a very poor response from commuters.