Monorail crosses 27,000 – mark despite freak mishap on day 1

MUMBAI: Mumbai Monorail had 27,619 riders on Day 1 of commercial operations for the entire 20km route between Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk and Chembur. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said the figure was “pretty indicative of the possible success of the entire corridor, as Monday was a public holiday due to Maha Shivratri”. In comparison, the 8.8km phase I (Chembur-Wadala) used to attract 15,000 commuters a day.

Day I also saw services disrupted for 30 minutes due to a freak incident at 12.30pm. An MMRDA spokesperson said, “The decoration for the monorail’s inauguration created a bit of a hurdle as the train had to be moved to the depot for 10 minutes to clear the floral strings that got entangled in the lower portion. Many passengers were stranded and the train pulled into the Wadala depot, where they had to take another service.”

Being a holiday, many commuters took a joyride with their families, especially several young children and senior citizens, to enjoy the panoramic views over central Mumbai. A family of seven, who boarded from Mint Colony, included an elderly woman with a walking stick. “My grandmother, who rarely ventures out of home, wanted to see Mumbai from a height, so we are fulfilling her wish,” said a youngster holding her hand.

The children marvelled at the edifices and skyline as the train took sharp turns. “We could not get seats as the train was full,” said Anita Kumar. Her husband said he had brought her for a joyride.

Ticket counters saw maximum sale of coin tickets for single journeys, while a significant number of people purchased prepaid cards for Rs50, and topped it up with cash in multiples of Rs50.

Wadala resident Vipul Shah said, “More trains are needed as the frequency is poor. I could not get a train for almost 45 minutes in the afternoon.”

All stations have baggage scanners, armed guards at entry points and CCTV cameras. Only the elderly and handicapped were allowed access to lifts. Maharashtra State Security Corporation personnel were deployed to ensure that commuters did not step beyond the yellow line on platforms.

“We don’t want any mishap as people could fall on the tracks if they try to get beyond the line. We are taking utmost precautions,” said an MSSC official at Naig-aon station.

A family who boarded at Chembur said they were disappointed. “We have gone on the Mumbai Metro (Versova-Ghatkopar), which is world class and has proper destination charts inside trains, besides comfortable seats and a smooth ride. This is slightly bumpy at times, and we came across an old station indicator chart (Wadala-Chembur route only) in the train,” a family member said.

Office-goers praised MMRDA for launching the service which will serve the working class and provide north-south connectivity, cutting travel time by more than 30 minutes.

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