Mumbai : They had two years to test the monorail in Indian conditions but when it was finally opened to the public on Sunday it became apparent that the fancy mode of mass transport had not been tested for the Mumbai rush hour.
The overcrowding — more than 700 in a four-coach train meant for 560 — had led to several mechanical glitches. On Monday, with ‘hyper’ commuters crowding the windows to have a bird’s eye view of the city through the tree canopies, the monorail almost swerved and tilted, tottering on the beam that it rides upon.
Explaining the uncanny sight, Mathew Verghese, the operations manager, said there was no real danger of the monorail tipping but the tottering could surely lead to the electronic doors getting jammed. In that case, the train will have to be taken to the yard.
Exasperated at the glitches, Scomi, the Malaysian firm behind the monorail, wanted to suspend operations on Monday. But on being denied permission by the MMRDA – as such a move would have elicited much flak — they carried out maintenance work for eight hours on Sunday night and resumed operations with four trains on Monday morning.
“The train can take load at the centre but not on the edges,’’ said Verghese, adding that they would educate commuters on the monorail etiquette. He also hoped that once the novelty wore off, the actual users would be less that the 20,000 on the first day. On Monday, too, there were 19,600 commuters, mostly school and college students.
Perhaps Scomi officials have not travelled by Mumbai’s suburban carrier and are oblivious to the fact that a nine-coach train accommodates 5,000 commuters, when it is meant to serve 1,500.
The rush also constrained monorail officials to issue paper tickets apart from tokens. An official said, “It takes 20 seconds to issue a token which means we can clear only three passengers a minute. We, therefore, decided to issue paper slips that reduced the time to 10 seconds per ticket.” There are nine trains but only five are being used. The other four are said to be undergoing “modifications’’.