Point-to-point AC Bus Service Pilot Launched in Mumbai
Pawan Mulukulta Mumbai | 15th July 2013: July 11th saw the launch of a point-to-point air conditioned bus service, “Shivneri Corporate” in Mumbai, by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. Two pilot routes are being run by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) from Thakur village and Lokhandwala complex in Kandivli (north Mumbai) to Bandra Kurla Complex (a commercial hub). The buses offer Wi-Fi, Global Positioning System and charging points for mobiles and laptops. The success of the pilot program is hinged on its ability to attract vehicle owners to use this new high quality service.
Greater Mumbai is a linear city with limited arterial roads, which were developed along suburban train corridors. Businesses have grown in a polycentric fashion and are currently concentrated in South Mumbai; Central Mumbai- Worli-Parel-Lalbaug; Western suburbs- Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and Marol MIDC –SEEPZ. With little or no space to expand laterally, residential areas are increasingly moving northwards, resulting in unidirectional traffic. In addition, the exponential growth of vehicles has pushed Mumbai into a gridlock situation.
To address this, Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) conducted a study aimed at attracting car users to air-conditioned buses that run from residential areas to business districts, thus reducing congestion and travel time.
EMBARQ India conducted the technical study which included designing surveys to identify new routes to launch the survey; asses demand; analyzing Electronic Ticketing Machine data from existing bus users; studying Origin-Destination patterns. Surveys emphasized the need for speed, reliability, frequency, safety, and comfort as a high priorities for using buses.
While the BEST undertaking operates city bus services in Mumbai, the pilot program is being run by MSRTC. The BEST undertaking also runs services parallel to the pilots though they are not point-to-point. In order to scale up and make the system commuter friendly, integration of the two bus service providers would be essential.