While the failure of the authorities to anticipate the growth and the consequent rise in the number of commuters at Parel and Elphinstone Road stations is to blame for the mess, experts claim all is not lost. According to them, working on public transport, by coordinating with Brihanmumbai Electric and Supply Transport (BEST), and pedestrian facilities could ease the traffic movement in the areas.
The increase in the number of high-rises and commercial activities has transformed the areas around the twin stations into a business hub. Commuters say the traffic situation has only worsened in the past six-seven years.
A major problem that needs to be addressed is the absence of a strong public transport system. With bus stops at a distance from the two stations, commuters have to rely on private taxis to make their way through the narrow, congested bylanes. A case in point could be the most congested Jagannath Bhatankar road, which stretches from Parel flyover to Elphinstone Road flyover. “As the roads cannot be seen from the stations, commuters do not know where they can get BEST buses. So they opt for private taxis to the bylanes. The authorities need to install signages inside the stations, directing commuters to the bus stops and with details of the services,” said transport expert AV Shenoy, adding that setting up a few more bus stops near the stations could be of great help.
Another problem is the flouting of traffic norms. Private taxis are often parked on the roads and bylanes, especially the one leading to Bhatankar road, thus adding to the traffic congestion during peak hours. Also, some taxis are parked on the rail overbridge (ROB) so they can pick up or drop commuters, disturbing the traffic flow further. Experts say there is a need to take strict against offenders.
“Despite repeated requests, the state authorities haven’t paid heed to our demand to widen the ROB and Bhatankar road. We will raise the issue in the Assembly,” said local MLA Kalidas Kolambkar.
The areas also need better pedestrian facilities. “If commuters get more skywalks, they won’t mind walking instead of taking a taxi. The high-rises, too, could be linked to the bridges directly, which could help their employees and also reduce the crowd on the approach roads,” said transport expert Ashok Datar.
Meanwhile, the railways plan to construct a foot overbridge (FOB) that will connect Parel station to the east and the west. Currently, there is only one FOB for Elphinstone Road station users.
Narendra Patil, public relations officer, Central Railway (CR), said “We have issued tenders for construction of Parel terminus. The plan is to build a FOB towards the Dadar end of Parel station.”
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said the hawker menace would soon be brought under control.
“We have evicted the illegal hawkers on Bhatankar Road. We will ensure they don’t return to the spot,” said assistant municipal commissioner VP Mote.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) also plans to build an elevated road from Sewri to Worli, which will reduce the traffic congestion in the area. But the plan is unlikely to take off in the next five years.
DECONGEST PAREL STATION AREA THE EXPERT WAY
Make it a walk to remember
The narrow roads coupled with crowded footpaths make it tough for commuters to walk.
Solution: Experts say the authorities should build a wide network of skywalks to disperse traffic in various directions. Some commercial high-rises could build private bridges, which can be connected to the skywalks, so their employees get direct connectivity to the stations. It will also help reduce the crowd on the roads. Residents want a skywalk connecting the F-south BMC ward office building to Parel station. They feel installing an escalator on the skywalk could help encourage walking. The entry of vehicles should be banned on approach roads towards the stations.
When branches are the root of problem
The traffic from the small lanes intersecting the roads leading to the Parel and Elphinstone flyovers slows down the movement of vehicles
Solution: Experts say the traffic police should make most bylanes one-way. This could easily tackle most of the problems faced by commuters, especially on the lane adjacent to Shirodkar market, during peak hours. Also, the entry of private vehicles in these lanes, which are very close to the station, should be banned. Doing so will help those walking towards the stations. Experts want one of the roads to be converted into a pedestrian plaza, with entry only to emergency vehicles.
Need to apply brakes on taxi drivers
Taxi drivers and private vehicles can be seen stopping at any spot on the rail overbridge (ROB) connecting the Parel and Elphinstone flyovers. This, in turn, slows down the flow of traffic.
Solution: Experts want the traffic police to take strict action against taxi drivers, who stop abruptly on the ROB. In addition, there should stringent action against bikers who flout traffic rules.
Illegal hawkers are a big deal
All approach roads, especially those on the east of the stations, are encroached upon by illegal hawkers and those parking vehicles illegally.
Solution: Experts say the authorities should clear the encroachments and hawkers to free up the space for vehicular traffic. In addition, the civic agency should take strict action and preventive measures to solve the problem.
A bus in time could save more than nine
There is only one BEST bus stop for commuters coming out of the west side of the stations. Those travelling to the east have to go to the Parel flyover to take BEST buses.
Solution: According to experts, there is a need to build more bus stops at points where commuters exit the railway stations. Authorities should put up signboards inside the station area, giving details of the bus stops and the bus services in various directions. This can be done easily if the railways join hands with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking.
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