Mumbai opens up but not local trains; commuting woes still on
As Mumbai enters unlock mode with offices, retail shops, manufacturing units opening up from Monday, many citizens continue to face commuting woes. Despite people being allowed to commute by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, mobile application-based cabs, autorickshaws and taxis, passengers have to travel for three hours and are spending more than double the amount for commuting to work every day.
Local train services for the general public were suspended for the second time on April 15 in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19 in the city, and the restrictions have not been lifted yet.
Before the epidemic, Mumbai suburban train network was used by more than 7 million people for their daily commute. Many of these people now have to travel to their workplace again, but the cheap and fast travel option of local trains is not available yet.
The authorities may allow women commuters to travel by train along with essential care workers and those travelling for medical reasons, in Mumbai which falls under level three of the unlock order. The state government has clarified that the decision on allowing women commuters to travel by local trains was given to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Disaster Management Authority (DMA). BMC, however, on Saturday evening issued a notification stating women commuters will not be allowed to travel by local trains yet.
Citizens say they would end up spending ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 per month for commuting to work as they will have to travel by cabs. “My workplace is in Nariman Point and I stay in Thane. Office started in April and then was shut and has resumed now again. I am spending up to ₹2,000 every day to commute to my workplace and back. I am commuting nearly three hours every day. Local train services should immediately be resumed for office-goers,” said Savita Yadav, a 34-year-old debt finance dealer.
Passengers have stated that there is no comparison to local trains. “Offices have resumed across Mumbai but people are forced to travel by other means of transport. I am travelling by my two-wheeler and BEST bus to work. Fuel prices have increased rapidly, which makes it difficult to take personal vehicle everywhere. There is no comparison of local trains when it comes to means of transport. Train services for the general public should resume,” said Neeraj Rathore, 31, who works in an automobile company.
Passenger associations have urged BMC to resume local train services for people travelling to work.
“Local train services for people going to work should be resumed immediately. Citizens, even last time, had to spend a lot of money and time just to travel to work. The decision of allowing people to travel to their workplace should be taken immediately,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.