Saturday, April 12, 2008

Downside of being cool in Mumbai

It’s cool. It’s roomy. It has a screen that plays Amitabh Bachchan clippings and tells you how big the Big B is. And you can see — from inside air-conditioned comfort — that your carrier is making quite an impression on the road, that the pressed-for-time and difficult-to-impress Mumbaikar is actually stopping to stare as you pass by.

But being cool has its downside in Mumbai. The city’s traffic reduces the King Long bus — the swishest set of big wheels right now — to a common plodder that takes three hours to do 45 km.

The drive itself, during those rare moments when the bus can do more than 30 kmph, is smooth. The twin air-suspensions ensure that you do not feel a bump even when you see the potholed road through the tinted windshield and brace your bones for the worst. The fares, too, are reasonable. Rs 65, for an air-conditioned drive from Dahisar to Backbay, is okay; the Rs-10 tickets for shorter distances may be even better value for money. (Check the fare-chart; BEST says the maximum fare is Rs 55 but conductors charge Rs 65).

But what can kill is the never-ending wait for your destination if you are travelling from one end of the city to the other. Three hours for a trip that takes one by train is not something that the regular Borivli-to-town office-goer will fancy. The tinted glasses, the comfortable seats and the hardy air-conditioner will tempt but not lure away the average commuter from the bone-crushing, but much quicker, train commute.

For shorter distances, however, the King Long bus has whatever what it takes to draw commuters away from trains. The promise of insulation from the heat and the dust — and the cattle-class travel of trains — for 20-25 minutes and Rs 10 is something definitely worth trying out if you are travelling between Borivli and Malad or between Bandra and Vakola.


deepak said...

The BRTS service is certainly a good alternative to the train travel in mumbai which is getting worse day-by-day, the only catch is during the peak hours i.e. between 0700-0900 there should be a bus every 10 mins instead of the scheduled 15-20 mins and only 3-4 standees should be allowed per stop as too many standees only creates a cramped up feeling. As many commuters have started opting for this service especially due to soaring fuel prices, to escape from the dust and pollution and not to forget about the gruelling travel in the trains where the number of travellers on train seem to be ever growing. A higher frequency with limited standees will definitely make this experience a very pleasant journey.

Deepak kamath
A frequent user of the BRTS service

afzal said...

now a days the BRTS has started followig the old practice followed by BEST of late running, skiping stops inspite of space is there the driver skips the stop. The authority should penalise the driver for skiping the stops.