WEH Woes: Mumbaikars Voice Frustration Over Persistent Traffic Chaos And Disappointing Commute

WEH Woes: Mumbaikars Voice Frustration Over Persistent Traffic Chaos And Disappointing Commute

"Western Express Highway," when uttered, encapsulates the exasperating ordeal of daily travel for countless Mumbaikars.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Saturday, August 19, 2023, 09:47 PM IST
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Huge traffic on Western express Highway at Jogeshwari towards Borivali | Vijay gohil/FPJ

"Western Express Highway," when uttered, encapsulates the exasperating ordeal of daily travel for countless Mumbaikars. Hrishikesh Gowalikar, a 28-year-old IT professional, candidly shared, "Whenever my parents or colleagues inquire about my arrival time, I simply utter the three words: Western Express Highway, and they respond with an understanding nod. This has been the routine for the past 7-8 months. My parents, colleagues, and I have collectively lost hope regarding WEH." In his words, he indirectly highlighted the inefficiency of the authorities responsible for overseeing WEH, encompassing traffic management and road conditions.

Gowalikar is one among the many who are seemingly bound by fate to traverse the WEH corridor for obligations that are non-negotiable. A straightforward journey to the airport from Andheri metamorphoses into a nightmare, as stated by Anuradha Iyer, who frequently commutes to the airport to receive clients. "Though I am generally soft-spoken, navigating the city roads, especially WEH, has turned me into a less-than-polite individual. Now, I vent my frustration through shouts and even curses aimed at road conditions, auto-rickshaws, and other elements encountered while traveling. The lamentable state of WEH is my primary grievance," exclaimed Iyer, her words laden with exasperation.

WEH spans from the suburban regions of Mira Road to Bandra.

Situation same despite Metro 2A and 7 becoming operational

Metro Lines 2A and 7, inaugurated with grandeur by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January of this year, were envisioned as solutions to alleviate WEH congestion. At the time, commuters expressed relief as a considerable number chose metro rides over road travel. WEH experienced a temporary respite; it was notably less congested. However, like most transient pleasures, this congestion relief lasted only 2-3 weeks before reverting to the standard situation.

"For those accustomed to personal vehicles, the novelty of metros faded quickly. Although enjoyable for a brief period, they inevitably reverted to road travel," elucidated a Goregaon resident who himself transitioned to metro and AC train locals. "At 79 years old, I experimented with the metro and AC locals, but the experience proved less than favorable. Traveling during peak hours or changing metro lines negatively impacted my health, and there's simply no luxury comparable to my own SUV. Surely, there are numerous individuals in Mumbai who share my sentiments."

35% surge in vehicle density on Mumbai roads in 5 years

Apart from their disappointment, Mumbaikars find themselves disheartened about the city's traffic prospects in the future.

According to a recent economic survey of the state, Mumbai's roads have witnessed a 35% surge in vehicle density over the past five years. A senior IPS officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, asserted, "With the growing population and increased vehicles, the only path out of this traffic quagmire is road expansion and additional flyovers. This is the sole avenue to alleviate Mumbaikars' suffering and maintain the flow of traffic."

The new two Metro lines

Metro 2A runs between Dahisar East to DN Nagar, while the 7 joins Andheri East with Dahisar East.

As per January 2022 figures, Maharashtra has 4.09 crore vehicles. Out of this, Mumbai along has 42.13 lakh vehicles.

As compared to 2021, in 2022, number of two-wheelers went up by 4.9%, light motor cars and jeep by 3.5%. A considerable drop in private buses by 31%.

City roads have 15 times higher number of vehicles in the entire state.

Of the total number in the city, 12.46 lakh vehicles were registered with Mumbai central RTO up to March 2022. This included 7.4 lakh two wheelers, 3.88 lakh cars, 26,160 meter taxis and 29,672 tourist cabs.

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