Suburbs getting more prominence over the island city? It seems so.
Statistics released by the Western Railway (WR) reveal that the sale of daily tickets has increased in the suburbs at Borivli and Virar but dropped at Churchgate and Dadar.
Railway authorities and urban planners indicate this is because of the shift in business hubs and offices to the suburbs in Bandra-Kurla Complex, Marol, Goregaon, Malad, Borivli, Vasai and Virar.
“The number of passengers travelling to the suburbs has increased in the last four years as several offices have shifted there. This has removed the concept of peak and non-peak hour traffic,” said a railway official.
In 2008-09, the sale of daily tickets, including monthly passes, automated ticket vending and coupons, at Virar station was 1.34 lakh. The number rose to 1.42 lakh in August 2009-10. In the same period, the sale of tickets at Churchgate, which connects to Nariman Point and Fort where most offices are located, has dropped from 1.66 lakh to 1.37 lakh.
The monthly seasonal passes form 80 per cent of the total sales of tickets where one pass indicates 50 tickets. “The sale of tickets have redistributed in the last few years due to improved ticketing facilities in the suburbs,” said S Gupta, Chief PRO, WR.
Presently the maximum commuter load on the western line is between Bandra and Andheri, while growth is expected beyond Borivli. Daily ticket sales at Andheri and Borivli stations have reduced from 3.06 lakh to 2.67 lakh and 3.29 lakh to 2.97 lakh respectively. At the mid-point station of Dadar too, sales have dropped from 1.57 lakh to 1.52 lakh. Officials feel the numbers are expected to drop further.
The number of train services too has increased from 1,196 in 2008-09 to 1,210 in 2009-10.
WR has started procuring 100 more automated vending machines and 80 coupon-validating machines in the next six months, which will mainly be for the suburbs. Even urban planners feel that the growth in work and education sectors is mostly in the north of the city. “Majority of people live in the suburbs and offices too are shifting north,” said urban planner Ashok Gangurde.