Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trains - the heartbeat of Mumbai

"Trains are the heartbeat of Mumbai."

Thats what i had heard before I went to Mumbai. So it was one of the things I wanted to check out while travelling there. 

With an estimated city population of 18.4 million, it is the most populated city in India and the 9th most in the world. 

Without an efficient train system, the city could go on standstill just with human traffic. 

We headed to the Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus or CST in Colaba at off peak hours to try to catch a local city train. Peak hours in Mumbai are crazy, people literary hang out of trains and I didn't want to try that.

I had already checked the map and the nearest station i was headed to was in Dader which is 13.5 km away from Colaba. 

They had electronic ticket machines but you needed to buy a card for that. The gruffy ticket officer gave me 4 tickets at rs 5 each (RM0.32). i was shocked, that's super cheap. 

We asked around and got into our train. i asked the lady sitting next to me, if she could point out our destination so we dont miss our stop. i didn't even have to do that, there were electronic displays in the train that would flash the next stations name sometime before we arrived. For the most populated city in the country, the trains were spick, span clean and comfortable to sit in. 

We arrived in Dader in about 30 minutes. the trip would have cost RS350 by taxi and at least 1 hours travel time with traffic and signals.

Later someone told me I could have gotten a direct train to Bandra, where i actually wanted to go. 

it made me think of our own public transportation. 

One, it isnt well connected 
Two - its expensive
Three - it takes longer to travel in than drive. 

Our public transport infrastructure seriously lacks in many ways. The LRT is pretty convenient if you live close to the stations. However for folks living in outskirt towns, we're stuck with the super slow and unreliable KTM. for some there is the option of taking the ERL to KL Sentral but at exorbitant prices of RM9.50 per way! Can someone explain to me why this ride costs so much? The trains are barely filled even at peak hours due to the high cost. 

While i'm hoping the upcoming MRT Projects will make a difference, none of it will matter if it is too expensive. 

While i don't think we should have RM0.30 tickets, we do need cost effective solutions, if the government is sincerely looking into making Malaysians more receptive to public transport. 

If I lived in Mumbai, I wouldn't need a car. I could take a train everywhere and use the auto (tuk tuk) to travel around an area. he cost was just Rs 20 - 30 (RM 1.40 - RM2) for a few kilometres. 

That brings me to the question of taxi's. Some LRT station taxis charge exorbitant amounts for short distances. What would have been an RM5 ride often turns into double the amount. 

So the question is how do you encourage people to take public transport when the cost of travel isn't being accounted for?

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