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The truth about skywalks

It had plans to spend Rs 600 crore to build 50 skywalks across Mumbai, but the city’s key urban infrastructure agency just got a reality check, reports Sayli Udas Mankikar.

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2009 01:09 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

It had plans to spend Rs 600 crore to build 50 skywalks across Mumbai, but the city’s key urban infrastructure agency just got a reality check.

The Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) — the state’s think tank on its ‘Mumbai Makeover’ project — conducted a study of the two skywalks built by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

And it found that only 776 people use the Rs 5.85 crore Kanjurmarg skywalk every hour. It also found that the usage of the city’s first skywalk at Bandra (E), on which the MMRDA spent Rs 13.63 crore, picked up only after the Behrampada fire on June 25 — 4,000 people now use it every hour.

The study, conducted by transport consultant Ashok Datar, and called “Benchmark study for user count at Bandra and Kanjurmarg Skywalks”, was made public by the MTSU on Wednesday.

“It was a small survey meant to give us an idea before planning any future projects. It tells us how we’ve done and what we can expect,” said UPS Madan, Project Manager, MTSU.

Both skywalks were observed for four hours each in the morning and evening between June 30 and July 8 this year.

According to the study, every hour, around 4,000 people use the Bandra (East) skywalk, which runs from Bandra (E) station to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). But two-thirds of them exit the skywalk at its first arm, which descends at Bandra Court.

Only 1,300 people use the skywalk every hour to actually get to BKC, suggesting usage is higher on the short-distance segment.

The Kanjurmarg skywalk, from Kanjurmarg station to Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, is a sharp contrast. The study found that only 776 people use this skywalk every hour, preferring instead to simply cross the railway tracks, since the rail crossing is not closed.

The study calls the Kanjurmarg skywalk “a low-priority and costly choice.”

So what kind of skywalks should be constructed and where?

The study says they should ideally cover short distances and carry large volumes. It also says skywalks will be used more when they lead into stations that do not have direct access from the road.

“At Santacruz station, a skywalk will work well. You anyway need to climb stairs to get onto any platform at this station, so it’s better to bring in the crowds from a distance,” said Datar.

“That will eliminate the problem of hawkers and congestion on the ground level just outside the station. Skywalks that have hawker plazas are a win-win situation for both hawkers and pedestrians,” he added.