Mumbai, 17 June-2014, Ranjeet Jadhav/Mid-day: While Mumbaikars are flocking to the Metro, Monorail seems to have become its neglected cousin. A month after extending timing of operations for the Wadala-Chembur corridor, authorities find that they are unable to attract more passengers.
CM Prithviraj Chavan flagged off the Monorail in February, and its timings then were 7 am to 3 pm. This was changed to 6 am-8 pm on April 15. The number of operating services was increased from the earlier 64 to the current 112. However, the line is attracting 14,000-15,000 passengers daily, well short of their projected number of 17,000-18,000.
Speaking to mid-day, a senior official from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the body which oversaw the Monorail project, said, “We extended the timings to increase the number of passengers. But, the response has not been as expected.”
In the first four weeks of its inauguration (February to March), the Chembur-Wadala patch of Mumbai Monorail saw 4,58,871 commuters, earning MMRDA R44,66,522 then. As expected, a portion of this turned out to be curious citizens taking joyrides.
Transport experts feel the line would continue to lie in the doldrums until the connection to Jacob Circle is made. “In my opinion, there was no need to have a Monorail between Wadala and Chembur, as a majority of the stretch is made up of isolated locations with a sparse population. Monorail is a blunder similar to MMRDA’s skywalks.
Passengers will take to Monorail once the entire corridor from Jacob Circle to Wadala is operational,” explained Jitendra Gupta of the Citizens’ Transport Committee, a body that analyses transport projects in Mumbai. Ashok Datar of MESN, an NGO devoted to traffic management, agreed, “The Wadala-Chembur line doesn’t pass through crowded areas.
Once the entire route is operational, number of people travelling by Monorail will increase.” However, Datar felt the ridership would still be below 1 lakh daily. mid-day had reported on April 1 that the project was running at a loss of Rs 1.5 crore per month – tickets raked in R2 lakh a day, while it took the MMRDA R7 lakh daily to operate the Monorail. While operational costs have increased, losses are expected to rise, as ticket sales are low.