Why The Mumbai Metro Is NOT A Great Service


I saw a glowing account of the Mumbai metro and felt the need to say something. I take the metro everyday and it has made my journey easier. But this is because I have no other options (broken roads, arterial junctions that are choked one-ways, badly timed signal systems). This does not mean that the Mumbai metro offers a great experience. Here are some things I’ve noticed that are alarming and really should be their responsibility:

  • Signage is terrible. Not a single station I’ve been to, makes it clear which stairway leads down to where.
  • Platform safety: When the metro was launched, there would be ONE staff member for the entire platform, ordering people to stand away from the track. This stopped after a month. Commuters are still new to metro travel. Daily, I see people fumble with elevators, card systems and finding spots to stand on the platform. Track crossing is STILL a danger. Of note, I took the Delhi metro a couple of years ago and there was a staff member manning every entrance into the coach, even though this was years after that station was opened.
  • Security: The bag check machine was out of order for days. The security check people still don’t know how to use the metal detector machines they wield. Every day I subject myself to a boob-pat or a butt-grab that somehow passes for security. When I tweeted about it, the Mumbai metro handle said it was their security policy and asked me to cooperate.

  • ‘Ladies compartment’: I’ve seen multiple instances of men getting into the ladies side — the commuters made them get down, not the staff. I’ve seen a boy who looks old enough to travel on his own, accompanying his mother on the ladies side. What age does the metro define a boy as not being allowed into the ladies? Given that the metro just has a detachable plastic strip dividing the sections, not a separate compartment, should a boy of any age be allowed into the ladies side of the line? If the boy is too small (baby), should the mother not travel on the general side? The metro’s ladies section is limited to putting one thin strip in a corner and two pink stickers on the platform. (Here are my thoughts on why they totally missed the point.1*Owj1Yi4E3NHI705COvClIQ
  • Andheri station: I frequent the lesser stations, not the terminuses. But Andheri station that has to be the busiest point, is terribly designed. It handles several times more commuter traffic than other stations. Yet, its platforms are much narrower, increasing chances of someone falling onto the tracks.
  • W.E.H. station has an extra floor (which I hear, is because they forgot to account for the flyover on the highway and had to go higher to build over it). For the first month, there was a security guard posted there. Not anymore. It’s a dingy, deserted, open access floor (security is on the floor above) and full of blind corners where anything could happen.

We are lulled into a sense of superior service and safety/security by pretty colours and airconditioned spaces. But a spate of incidents in the last few years should remind us of how illusive these things are. Mumbaikars, keep your wits about you — travelling by the metro is no less difficult or dangerous than any other mode of public transport in this city.

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4 thoughts on “Why The Mumbai Metro Is NOT A Great Service

  1. Ravishankar January 8, 2015 at 19:36 Reply

    i agree with you on almost all the points that you have mentioned , however in comparison with the current local rail network, this is surely an improvement.I dare say that these glitches or limitations would be addressed in the coming months.Likewise the comparison with the Delhi network may not be appropriate as the volumes at Delhi are much less as compared to Mumbai and the space constraint is much less or negligible at Delhi compared to Mumbai.

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    • IdeaSmith January 13, 2015 at 00:30 Reply

      @Ravishankar: This is not a comparison between the Mumbai metro and the Mumbai Railway network. The first was built and is managed by a private operator, one of India’s largest companies while the second is a government managed operation and still continues to provide low-cost, mostly efficient daily travel for much of the city.

      As for the Delhi metro comparison, I was referring to Connaught Place, undoubtedly one of Delhi’s most crowded hubs. And if the populations are not comparable, isn’t that even more reason to be extra vigilant with the Mumbai commuters?

      The metro going population in Mumbai has not reached unmanageable proportions (like train commuters). Yet, within a couple of months of its inauguration, the staff has stopped monitoring the platforms (which even when they began was limited to ONE member on the platform). On the other hand, the Delhi metro staff continues to monitor crowds years after its inauguration with not just one but several staff members on the platform. I think it is quite a fair comparison which only shows the Mumbai metro in very poor light.

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  2. Shaunak De January 8, 2015 at 19:39 Reply

    I guess it is just better compared to the other options, but in all honest, yes it has its flaws. Well pointed out.

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    • IdeaSmith January 13, 2015 at 00:31 Reply

      @Shaunak De: Surprisingly it seems to have its loyal defenders. I especially can’t understand comparing the metro to the Mumbai Railway service.

      Like

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