With the Maharashtra government initiating a state-wide unlocking (Unlock 4.0) in a phased manner, people have started to hit the roads. The state has ordered 100 per cent attendance for Group A and B staff in government offices. Private offices too are allowed to function with 30 per cent of its staff strength. The curbs in inter-state and intra-state movement have also been lifted. Simply put. More people are venturing out of their homes for work daily.
While the demand for public transport has increased, local train services, the city's lifeline, are available only to essential service workers. The Western and Central Railway are running 300 trains for essential workers. However, Mumbaikars, who do not fit into the “essential services” category are at the mercy of inadequate BEST buses and private vehicles. The low frequency of buses and the appalling condition of roads has added to the misery of Mumbaikars. Exasperated commuters say they have to spend 3-4 hours on average, if not more, every day, commuting to work and back. Mumbaikars share their woes of daily travel
Defence advocate, Divya R Gupta travels regularly from her Sion residence to sessions court Kala Ghoda. She has to leave her house two hours prior to her reporting time. As defence lawyers are not qualified to use suburban rail services, Gupta is dependent on BEST buses. "Buses do not stop at the stoppages once they are full. I have missed court hearings and reached many-a-times. I had also tried taking cabs, but commuting through roads also takes a lot of time due to heavy traffic" Gupta said.
She mentioned, when once inside the bus there hardly any space to sit and social distancing becomes impossible.
Narendra Kheraliya stated getting into a bus has become a risky affair as they don't stop on every stop nowadays. Kheraliya suggested, due to low frequency of buses it takes a lot of time for office goers to commute. "We need to reach the bus stop minimum two hours in advance as the number of commuters have increased now while the frequency has remained the same. Due to pothole ridden roads the travel time has also increased, running after a bus on the pothole filled roads has become a misadventure for the common people" said Kheraliya.
Retailer Dnyaneshwar Jeughale commutes regularly for six hours on his motorcycle from Kalyan to Andheri. "Till August, traffic on the road was less. But as unlocking began and more offices were allowed to open the traffic situation worsened and the potholes added to our woes,” he said.
Professor Bhushan Shinde said that it takes double the time in his car to reach his workplace, as vehicular traffic has increased due to suspension of railways.
"If I start at peak hour, it takes double the regular time as the vehicular traffic on roads has increased. Add to this the potholes on the Eastern Express," Shinde said.
Advocate Varun Vij stated the unavailability of local trains are causing financial crunch to a lot of daily commuters. "We need to attend court for regular hearings for cases which are our steady flow of income but travelling is getting tedious and costs are becoming cumbersome, which the clients are reluctant to reimburse" said Vij.