The plan to begin water taxi service between Ferry Wharf, around 5 km from Gateway of India, and Mandwa to cater to the increasing passengers on the route is not going to start before mid-November. Also, the plan to launch hovercraft services will take more time. It will not start along with water taxis as of now, said an official from the Mumbai Port Trust, who did not wish to be named.
He further said, "We have shortlisted six Indian agencies for providing water taxi services, however, they have been asked to submit their plan like how many trips they (water taxi) will undertake in a day once they starts operating. We are expecting a reply in a week's time from all these companies. Moreover, though we will give permission, the agencies will take their own time to commence the services."
When questioned what will be the profit share between MbPT and the operators, he replied that there will be a revenue share model but not as such a profit-making business. "It is a public transport service. And since, we are exploring this concept which is new altogether and we don't know how the response would be. Therefore, the operators are given some freedom. If somebody is investing in a venture that has uncertainties it needs to be protected until it is established."
The MbPT has planned to introduce private water taxi services in a bid to decongest Gateway of India where many private speed boats, yacht are parked. The official informed, "We are providing options to Public by introducing water taxi from Ferry Wharf. At present, people take boats from Gateway of India." He asserted the future plan is also to take water taxi up to the new international airport at Navi Mumbai.
Currently, the travel time between the Gateway of India and Mandwa by catamaran is around one hour and through road it takes one and half hour. While the water taxis are expected to complete their journey in 30-40 minutes. The distance between Ferry Wharf, popularly known as Bhau Cha Dhakka, and Mandwa is 9 nautical miles (nearly 17km).