In this part of the series on traffic conditions in Mumbai we will focus on the Western Suburbs, considered among the city's oldest suburbs. Since the region consists of prominent places from Andheri to Mira Road, the connecting lines of these areas play a larger role for Mumbaikars.
One such connector is the Western Express Highway (WEH), which connects the Dahisar-Borivali belt to the Vile Parle-Bandra areas, while parallelly running to South Mumbai via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
It is no surprise that even with the finest connecting links via road, the Western Suburbs end up looking like a mess from the traffic point of view. With heavy vehicles plying through these roads, daily commute becomes a task for citizens dependent on road transport.
The density of cars in Mumbai increasing, but the space for vehicles is still the same. Every day, commuters complain through various mediums about the choke-ups in the Western Suburbs, but to no avail.
Total vehicles registered with Mumbai RTO (Eastern) up to March 2022 and the congested roads of Western suburbs | FPJ
Jogeshwari resident ArjunParla, 56, who has been commuting via SV Road, which begins from Bandra and ends at Dahisar with the WEH, says “It has been this way for decades. With the rising population and vehicles increasing in number, the congestion has only worsened.”
Commuters, in general, believe bad roads are the reason for the traffic chaos. While the Western Suburbs look uber-cool in movies, in reality, Mumbaikars are burning fuel and wasting time stuck in traffic for hours.
City Welfare org hints at possible solution
“A major issue is the Kurur village area just before Goregaon. During peak hours an additional lane is provided for cars to pass but there is no fixed timing. Motorists try to come from the left to the right side to access this additional lane, causing a bottleneck situation. A solution could be what is done at Caddle Road in Mahim," Welfare Organization for Road Safety & Prevention of Accidents (WORSPA) secretary, Mohammed Afzal said.
"Every morning, traffic moves in one direction from Mahim Depot to Sitladevi Temple signal towards Hinduja Hospital. From 2.45 pm onwards, traffic flows in the opposite direction – from South Mumbai to the suburbs,” he said adding that the same should be adopted at Goregaon, with a signboard visible to motorists 250m before such diversions.
Afzal was one of the three people from India who participated in helping save lives from road crashes inthe Asia Pacific Webber, organised by the Road Safety Observation, ADB, The World Bank, GRSF, Bloomberg Philanthropies, IRAP and Global Road Safety Partners.
“There is a bottleneck at JVLR flyover signal at the WEH due to Metro work. Little can be done here.Once the work is concluded most issues will be resolved. At the Dahisar Check Naka, the major issue is the check naka itself. Development has increased many folds, beyond Nalasopara. Mira Road has a major bottleneck. The toll naka should be shifted near the flyover which takes you towards Fountain Hotel,” Afzal said. According to him, motorists don't follow discipline in the toll lane, which only makes the situation worse.
Study suggests Mumbaikars spend 11 days in traffic per year averagely
A recent study suggested that an average 30-minute drive in Mumbai more than doubles to 66 minutes due to road congestion. This means that Mumbaikars are wasting 55% of their commuting time stuck in traffic, equating to roughly 11 days in traffic for the average person per year, according to the study by IDFC Institute's analysis of more than 53 million Uber movement data. It further said that the situation gets worse during monsoon season when a 30-minute journey becomes 70 minutes.
Traffic cops speak
According to local traffic authorities, they are trying to decongest traffic at the locallevel. A traffic cop in Andheri East explained, “We have introduced manual traffic management to make the traffic flow in a personalized manner. During peak hours, especially in the evening, traffic is managed manually by on-ground officers to avoid vehicular pile-ups.”
However, commuters feel this is of no use. Andheri resident Jagnath Shirke said, “Unless traffic authorities clear up illegal encroachment and roadside parking, traffic will not move smoothly. As far as the manual management is concerned, half the time there are no traffic cops present.”
Commuters miss flight due to traffic on Airport route
Meanwhile, in the Airport area at WEH, commuters have been complaining about being late or missing their flight due to traffic. “Mumbai does not have the concept of peak hours. Be it roads or trains. You leave your house a minimum of two hours before the scheduled time and yet you may miss the flight,” said a resident of Vakola who claims to have missed flights this year.
Even auto-rickshaws and local taxis refuse to ferry rides to the airport as they know they won't make it on time. “Ijust refuse to go there if anyone says they want to reach immediately, because if they miss their flight they blame us drivers without considering traffic or bad roads,” said a local taxi driver who usually serves the Bandra area.
Similarly,the links from the Eastern Suburbs towards the Western Suburbs which include the Andheri Ghatkopar Link Road, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), Andheri-Kurla Road and Santacruz-Chembur Link Road are known for bad traffic management and high congestion during peak hours and otherwise. This especially holds for the JVLR, with the Metro construction causing a bottleneck.
For your suggestions, feedback, or to share your traffic woes write to the Editor at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org