The state government has spent huge money on building big-ticket infrastructure projects such as the metro, monorail, flyovers and upgrading the existing infrastructure in the past decade. Yet, it hasn’t been any significant improvement in the city’s transport facilities. The reason: the authorities have failed to ensure that various modes of transport modes are interconnected.
As a first step towards this, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made a decision on Thursday to create integrated transport hubs in south Mumbai and Bandra.
The south Mumbai hub will connect suburban railway stations at CST and Churchgate to the metro station at Azad Maidan and CST- Panvel elevated corridor. According to the plan, the central line will be extended further for commuters from Churchgate to use this route. Navi Mumbai’s local planning body, Cidco, plans to connect the elevated corridor to the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) through metro.
Similarly, Bandra will have a suburban station, bus depot, rail terminus and metro stations. With the government’s plan to extend the Andheri- Virar elevated rail corridor till Bandra and reports of the area being the starting point of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, Bandra will is going to be a major transport hub.
City’s business hub Bandra- Kurla Complex (BKC) too is not well connected. The transport hub improve the connectivity of the area and boost business, especially in the wake of development of International Finance Services Centre (IFSC).
In addition, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is building elevated road over Mithi River, which will boost connectivity in the central suburbs, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
The development however evoked mixed reactions from the city-based transport experts.
Urban planner Akhtar Chauhan said “Integrated transport hubs should have come in the city 20 years ago. The authorities should concentrate on developing areas such as Kurla, Panvel, Virar as new hubs to improve trasnport. They should incorporate these proposed hubs in regional development plans for effective and timely execution.”
CR general manager SK Sood said an underground loop is proposed along the CR route. “After shifting the harbour line to Dr P D’Mello Road side, main line will take the place of harbour line. Slow corridor of the main line will form the underground loop. The plan, which is estimated to cost around Rs1,500 crore, has got a go ahead from the railway minister and the state government.
Transport expert AV Shenoy raised questions over the viability south Mumbai as a transport hub. “Authorities have decided to make an underground loop along the main line. We do not know if it is even technically possible. Railways should have done a systematic study before making the announcement.”
MMRDA has, meanwhile, decided to put extension of Eastern Freeway and that of Wadala-Thane-Kasarvadavali metro 4 to South Mumbai on the back burner.