ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Invisible Last Mile of Mumbai’s Lifeline

Mumbai’s suburban rail network lives up to the moniker of being the city’s “lifeline” by transporting over 7.5 million passengers daily. However, lack of suitable last mile connectivity in the network causes passengers to rely on unsustainable modes for their last mile commutes. This significantly affects the advantages of high patronage of public transport and contributes to severe congestion on roads. The railways’ wide geographical presence across the city and access to 45% of the city’s commuters can be utilised to develop stations as the harbinger of futuristic and sustainable modes of transport for all of Mumbai.

Mumbai’s transportation scenario has traditionally been an intriguing jigsaw. The city has among the highest share of public transport usage in the world, with over 45% of commuters using the city’s elaborate suburban rail network and BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) buses (MCGM 2016). At the same time, Mumbai is also recognised as one among the top congested cities in the world. A study calculated that vehicle drivers spent about 65% of their time stuck in congestion and the average traffic speed during peak hours was just 18.5 kilometres per hour (kmph) (TomTom.com 2019). The city also accounts for over 400 road fatalities each year (Natu 2020). These are often attributed to the capacity constraints of public transport and infrastructural deficiencies failing to adequately fulfil the mobility needs of over 20 crore residents of the metropolis (GoI 2011). While these factors are often examined through numerous studies both in academic and policy spheres, there appears to be an acute under-examination of the first- and last-mile journeys of commuters using public transport, particularly the suburban rail network and its impact on the city’s transportation woes and commuter experience.

The local railway network lives up to its moniker of being the city’s lifeline by transporting over 7.5 million passengers daily under extreme resource constraints (ADB 2019). However, unlike the metro, an integrated first/last mile connectivity (LMC)1 plan with the network is conspicuously absent at the moment. The shutting of the network because of the COVID-19 outbreak provided a rare opportunity for the city’s suburban rail planners to consider integrating the LMC component in its planning with a focus on promoting sustainable modes of urban transport and enhancing commuter experience.

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Updated On : 19th Dec, 2020

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