While the change from rattling autorickshaws and packed buses to a gleaming, fast metro train has been welcome, it has been limited to too few Mumbaiites, said residents and experts.
With the suburban railway network providing north-south connectivity, commute between the eastern and western suburbs was earlier dependent on autorickshaws and buses, or private vehicles. The congested stretch meant the journey from Andheri to Ghatkopar would take up to an hour. The metro has changed all that.
“Often, I ended up spending over an hour to travel from Versova to Andheri (East) during peak hours. Now, I reach my office in Andheri comfortably, in just 15 minutes,” said Sudam Navle, an accountant.
Another commuter, Tushita Bhuttani, said: “The metro is pollution- free and safe for women. The government should build more metro lines across the city, which will give us a faster, comfortable, safer transport option.”
The new service is also changing commuting dynamics in the city. For instance, the metro line is being used as the interchange point between central and western suburbs, which has reduced the pressure on Dadar station.
However, the impact of this sole corridor is limited in absence of a metro network.
A survey by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) revealed that the metro had failed to attract car users, with only 2 % of car users opting for the service.
“Most of the regular car users do not use the metro as there is only one line and they will have to resort to BEST buses and the suburban railway if they want to go to south Mumbai, Bandra, the eastern suburbs and Navi Mumbai. Authorities should ensure a proper network of metro services, which can be used to travel anywhere in the city. This may encourage car users to take to the metro,” said AV Shenoy, a transport expert.
Shenoy said that commuters will not mind paying higher fares if an extensive metro network is in place.