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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:15   #1
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Default So, I caught the train last evening....

And it was a wonderful experience! Tuesday evening saw a massive choc-o-block in South Mumbai. Navratri festivities had begun, and the holy month of Ramdan had just ended. Someone who had completed the Nariman Point to Worli drive claimed that it took him all of 2.5 hours, and I could see from down my office that Marine Drive traffic was absolutely stationary. I dumped the car in the office parking lot and started walking to the station which is only 30 seconds away. Long time it has been.

52 bucks is the first-class ticket cost from Churchgate to Bandra. Not as cheap for a single trip as I expected it to be, yet the monthly passes offer far better value (monthly first class pass is a mere 300 odd bucks). Though I got off at Dadar, the system issues a ticket valid till Bandra which is some stations away. A diesel car would use the equivalent of about 1.xx liter of fuel (14 kms to home), not counting the additional costs of car ownership of course. Churchgate being the starting point, the train was rather empty. Someone recommended me to take the "slow" versus the "fast" train to avoid the crowds. Covered the entire distance from the office station to the one closest to home in 20 minutes flat. Walk out to a ready stream of cabs, home in another 7 minutes at the minimum fare (gave 20 bucks to the driver in total including tip). A fast train would have been even quicker!

I honestly don't remember the last time I travelled from office to home in only 27 minutes on a heavy monsoon day. Even if you leave aside the abnormal traffic situation from last evening, the 14 km drive would have taken me 1.25 hours at a minimum thanks to the rains. The train was quick, convenient and required absolutely zero effort. I must commend on the absolutely amazing camaraderie between train regulars, atleast in the first class compartment. Saw a group playing cards, snacks being shared and a ton of office / general jokes being thrown around. There were more people smiling than I see in the cars around me in traffic.

Just makes you think how different life in an Indian metro would have been if the public transportation was A-grade. One of the factors running in my favour last evening was the time I caught the train. Relatively late at 2045 hours in the evening. The ones running at 1800 - 2000 hours are packed to the brim. The morning train is akin to transporting goods, rather than human beings, and I'd much rather drive to work at 0820 in the morning using the empty road.

Strangely, as much as I look forward to the drive after work, I enjoyed the train journey too.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:35   #2
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GTO you brought back memories of more than two decades ago! I was on a one & a half month stint in Mumbai in connection with some Bank Audit. Used to stay at Seven Bungalows, Andheri (with my brother) & commute to Churchgate.

Boy oh boy, it was fascinating - each train had its set of regulars, same compartment, same benches! Some card playing groups, some groups doing their morning kirtan & of course, hordes of individuals on their daily commute. Same was the scene in the evenings.

Yes, the fast locals squashed you up but did get you there faster - used to take them in the evenings, on the way back.

They're an experience not to forget, the Mumbai local trains!
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:37   #3
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Have you taken the Delhi metro? If and when that system comes to our city I defiantly would prefer using that over breaking my head in traffic.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:44   #4
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Have you taken the Delhi metro? If and when that system comes to our city I defiantly would prefer using that over breaking my head in traffic.
Quite a few of us are waiting for it to touch our respective lives so to speak. Hopefully, by 2010, the links that will serve our purpose (Gurgaon, South Delhi, Noida etc) will be up & running. Though, the feeder services will leave a lot to be desired.........
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:46   #5
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Quote:
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Some card playing groups, some groups doing their morning kirtan & of course, hordes of individuals on their daily commute.
You betcha! Everyone knew everyone, ton of jokes and laughing all around.

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Have you taken the Delhi metro? If and when that system comes to our city I defiantly would prefer using that over breaking my head in traffic.
That's what the Delhi'tes get for sharing real estate with the people in power. That Metro system is a couple of lightyears ahead of what we have here in Mumbai.

Why can't we have A+ grade public transportation? Say an air-con train compartment with seating space? Charge a worthy premium and most car owners will convert for the daily office-work rounds. I for one wouldn't mind using my laptop and getting some work done, while reaching office at a lower cost (in time and $$$). And keeping that Audi A4 3.2 FSI for the weekends
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:48   #6
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Quote:
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There were more people smiling than I see in the cars around me in traffic.
thats the best part about public transportation compared to driving yourself in india where people are ready to fight with you at the drop of a hat.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:48   #7
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During one of my visits to Mumbai I had to visit some retail stores near VT station after which I had a flight to catch back to Chennai. Since I was starting from the terminus I opted to take a slow Andheri local as advised by my colleague to Ville Parle had a seat to sit all the way until Ville Parle. Did not need the first class even though I have used local trains in Mumbai only a couple of times. Must have reached the airport in less than an hour all the way from VT which would not have been possible if I had taken a cab.

Incidentally I used Metro to commute between Pragati Maidan and Connaught Place the last time around when I was in Delhi for the "Photo Fair Exhibition", must admit I would ditch taking the taxi to Airport in favour of the Metro the moment the connectivity is done.

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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:50   #8
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I recently took a Volvo bus to commute within Bangalore city and I really loved that stress-free travel. As much as we love to drive our car, I feel that it will be great if we follow the European model of development rather than the American model. High-speed train connectivity between cities is a wonderful option to have.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 15:57   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
You betcha! Everyone knew everyone, ton of jokes and laughing all around.



That's what the Delhi'tes get for sharing real estate with the people in power. That Metro system is a couple of lightyears ahead of what we have here in Mumbai.

Why can't we have A+ grade public transportation? Say an air-con train compartment with seating space? Charge a worthy premium and most car owners will convert for the daily office-work rounds. I for one wouldn't mind using my laptop and getting some work done, while reaching office at a lower cost (in time and $$$). And keeping that Audi A4 3.2 FSI for the weekends
Most of us are used to doorstep drop offs. Thats where the problem lies, only developing a good space seating with air-con etc are not the key elements IMO. The public transport needs to have convenient and frequent stops or else if people have to get off and catch a cab to get to their final destination it would be a waste. On the split side, more stops=more time
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Old 23rd September 2009, 16:07   #10
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If we don't mind a little bit of walking and a bit of crowds (during peak hours), there is nothing like the trains for stress free travel within the city. I make it a point to use public transport at least once a week and leave my vehicles at home.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 16:35   #11
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Yes Delhi Metro is a real gem for Delhites saving lot of time. And they are clean, air conditioned and well organized. Every three minutes a Metro will be there for you. Around ten years back, I used to take a auto from New Delhi Railway station to go to Ajmeri Gate (That is where ISBT is there) and it used to take me nearly an hour or so with lot of dust hear and pollution around. Now with Metro same distance can be covered in 20 minutes flat.

Waiting for Metro in Mumbai....Reliance please speed up
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Old 23rd September 2009, 16:37   #12
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I have travelled in Mumbai trains for 7 years, 5 for college and 2 for office. My experience is quite the contrary of GTO.

The distinction between Central and Western line is huge. At Western, the fast trains run all day long, and at Central, they run frequently only at peak hours, and reduce frequency or stop running on other hours. Catching any train from Dadar towards Thane from 6.30 to 9.30 is like challenging Yamdoot. Some posts above paint quite romantic picture of the public transport. Wait till you see the groups playing cards hassle some lone passanger just because he kept his bag on their regular racks. Same with Kirtan mandals.

The worst thing about the train travel in Mumbai is, you lose your individuality. Atleast in Central railway, the first or second class don't differ much in terms of crowd, only the quality of crowd. You get free massage daily in trains, only you have to have the mindset to accept it. If you are travelling at odd hours, then the trains are surely a better option. But at peak hours (and for central, the peak hour is from 8-11am and 6-10pm), you better start praying!
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Old 23rd September 2009, 16:42   #13
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I did travel on the Mumbai local trains a couple of times last year. Loved every moment of it. I guess it is the fastest mode of transport within the city. Once, I was travelling from Vile Parle to Dadar stations, me and a colleague of mine both got second class tickets and in the commotion got into the first class compartment.

To our luck the TC arrived and started checking tickets (we had travelled all day in the locals and nobody had checked our tickets that day). Just when he was about to check our tickets he changed direction to check a software engg couple. Luckily for us, they either didn't have tickets or had wrong tickets (same like us). The TC got down with them at the last station before Dadar. That was one close shave.

Even with all the crowds in it, I would still take the train the next time I am in Mumbai
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Old 23rd September 2009, 18:10   #14
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In fact even commuting by KSRTC Volvo buses (Karnataka) has become an amazing experience. Tickets can be booked online and all one needs is a print out.

The other day me and my friend took a 11'o'clock Volvo from Bangalore to Tirupathi on a Friday night. Reached Tirupathi by 3 in morning, before even we knew. We climbed up the hill in 4 hours, cleaned up in the morning, had darshan in 1.5 hours, and were down back by 12 in after noon.

After lunch when we came to the bus station, we had Volvo waiting for us (chance I guess) for Bangalore.

The best part was when the bus started, a guy came running to catch the bus. He had no reservation and the bus was full. The conductor promptly got up, gave his small seat to him, printed out the ticket through the electronic ticketing system that he was carrying and came to Bangalore all the way standing. I was really impressed both on the service quality as well as the promptness. At least I had not seen this level of service before !

We were back in Bangalore by 7:00 PM on Sat. Lord of Tirupathi in one day by public transport. How is that ?

Last edited by ampere : 23rd September 2009 at 18:13.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 18:17   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
My experience is quite the contrary of GTO.

You get free massage daily in trains, only you have to have the mindset to accept it. If you are travelling at odd hours, then the trains are surely a better option. But at peak hours (and for central, the peak hour is from 8-11am and 6-10pm), you better start praying!

Train travel in Mumbai is extremely nasty during peak hours. Most times there is no space to breathe. Most days I used to spend stuck between people at wierd angles and sweating big time. At times it seemed as if a mini waterfall had sprung up under my shirt!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I must commend on the absolutely amazing camaraderie between train regulars, atleast in the first class compartment. Saw a group playing cards, snacks being shared and a ton of office / general jokes being thrown around. There were more people smiling than I see in the cars around me in traffic.
Mumbai might be one of the few places in the world where people develop a "train friends" group - who mainly meet only in the train to/from work.

Quote:
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Just makes you think how different life in an Indian metro would have been if the public transportation was A-grade. One of the factors running in my favour last evening was the time I caught the train.
My sentiments exactly. Everytime I visit Singapore or any european capital, I marvel at the public transport. Granted, one thing in their favour is the lack of such dense population as in Mumbai.

An A-grade public transport system (trains/buses) is one of the more important factors to improve quality of life in Mumbai.

Work is being done for the Mumbai Metro-rail and I see quite a few full AC BEST buses on the roads. I really hope they are successful, for the good of this superb city.
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