The first day of commercial operations of India’s first monorail, from Wadala to Chembur, saw an unprecedented response from Mumbaikars. As per figures given by MMRDA, 19,678 commuters took the monorail Sunday. The first train left Wadala station at 7.08 am and a total of 61 trips were made.
Although the monorail was scheduled to operate between 7 am and 3 pm Sunday, the operations continued till 4.30 pm as monorail staffers struggled to clear the rush and honour the ticket tokens that had been issued.
A little after 1.30 pm, however, monorail staffers informed the crowd outside the station that they were shutting the station soon and that more tickets would not be issued so that they could clear the passengers who were already inside the station and had purchased tickets.
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“I waited for two hours in a queue because my son, Hrushil, was excited about the idea of sitting inside the monorail. We will come again next Sunday. Hopefully it won’t be too crowded then,” said Vinod Pawar, father of the eight-year-old, who had to go back
Many like Pawar had come with their families and children in tow as a ‘day-out’ to ride the monorail. And several had to go back home disappointed as the MMRDA closed entry to all stations between 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm owing to the unprecedented response.
MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said, “Although stations were closed, those who were standing in queue at the ticket counters in the station area were issued tokens for traveling and as per schedule, the train operations closed at 3 pm. An announcement to this effect was made at all monorail stations.”
The blue, pink and green monorail trains, which can carry 562 passengers, were running almost at their full capacity as the day progressed. With the crowd being thick right since monorail started operations Sunday, the staffers were unable to maintain the 15-minute frequency of operations. Trains were running with an interval of around 30 minutes as it was taking longer than expected to clear the alighting passengers from the platforms and stations.
“It was sad that our services couldn’t cater to all those who wanted a ride. The frequency did dip because often the train would be overloaded and we had to ask a few people to get down. People were so excited that no one wanted to alight. As a result, the train would stop at every station for much longer than expected,” said a monorail official.
Those who did get a chance to enjoy the ride had many good things to say about the trains, the station, the ticketing system and the colour scheme.
“I boarded the train at Chembur. The station was extremely crowded and there was a lot of pushing and shoving to get inside the train. I felt like I was at VT station or Dadar station,” said Godavari Wavval, a resident of Govandi.