Belapur to Gateway: Response to water taxis hits rough waters
The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has decided to meet the operators to discuss ways to boost the footfall in the boats.
Belapur: After a low response from daily commuters to the Belapur-Gateway water taxi service, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has now decided to meet the operators to discuss ways to boost the footfall in the boats.
“We have scheduled a meeting with the boating operators to discuss ways to make the route between Belapur to Gateway more popular amongst residents. While the boat assigned for ferrying is a 200-seater, the bookings received are not more than 20-odd passengers. For the operators, it is not feasible to operate the vessel with such a low count. Therefore, a 50-seater boat was being run so that at least the regular passengers are not denied the services,” said Captain Praveen Khara, Chief Port Officer, MMB.
One of the primary reasons attributed to the route failing to take off is the high fare. Passengers had to pay ₹300 to travel to Gateway on weekdays. “The fares charged are already at a subsidized rate. Nevertheless, we will get more clarity on the reasons only after the meeting with the operators concerned,” said Khara.
On February 8, the water taxi services were relaunched with a 200-seater boat.
Presently, two boating operators are providing transport facilities at the jetty. The route to Gateway is operated on weekdays, whereas the route to Mandwa is operated on weekends. While the 200-seater Nayan XI remains docked at the jetty, even the 50-seater speed boat used to ferry passengers to Gateway and Mandwa has developed technical issues, thereby raising concern about the services in general.
“Such services are planned without proper study. Ideally, a survey was necessary to ascertain the need for such a transport system. Considering local trains are providing efficient services, those commuting daily are unlikely to opt for water taxi services with poor frequency and high fares,” said Bharat Gupta, a resident from Nerul.
Operators, however, are positive about the route gaining popularity in the days to come.
“It’s been just a month of operating the services and we are certain to find a solution. The Gateway route has indeed not met the expectations, but the route to Mandwa is turning out to be a major success. We are receiving an average of over 100-odd bookings on weekends. The technical issue with the 50-seater will be addressed at the earliest and services will resume in full swing,” said the operator working with Nayan XI.