Even as the country’s first monorail is scheduled to open for public use Sunday after a delay of three years, commuters are likely to face a few constraints initially. There are no escalators on any of the seven stations of the Chembur-Wadala monorail yet, and there could be confusion near station areas with the city’s development authority yet to fully implement its plan to improve traffic around monorail stations.
The transport system will, for the time being, not be available during evening peak hours. With the monorail being a completely new system running on a previously unconnected route, it will run from 7 am-3 pm for around a month, till the operation and maintenance staff is beefed up and the authority gets an idea of traffic.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will inaugurate the monorail on February 1 and it will be thrown open for use by the public from February 2.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We will start installing the escalators at the stations in around four months. It will take nearly six months to cover all the stations.”
The reason cited for the delay in installing escalators is that it was not a part of the original contract and later when the MMRDA decided to install these, there were land acquisition hurdles. The development authority had decided to install escalators in mid-2012, three years after construction of the monorail corridor had started.
The monorail will also not have any public toilets. Madan said this was the norm for monorails all over the world.
With regard to decongesting any possible traffic at the station areas, the authority had come up with a traffic dispersal plan in July last year after discussions with the BEST, the BMC and the traffic police department. It involved installation of railings, signages, clearing encroachments causing hindrances and arranging for bus feeder services.
Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, said, “The BEST is rerouting its services in this area. Providing a feeder service for every monorail station is being considered.”
Madan said the plan would take a month to be completed, but overall there should not be heavy congestion at station areas.
“The capacity of the monorail is 562 passengers, but it will not always be full up to its entire capacity. Also, all the passengers using the monorail will not be getting in or out of the same station,” he said.
Madan added, “We are looking at creating a space for auto-rickshaws to pick up and drop commuters wherever possible, but as the monorail will be going through some congested areas, this may not be possible at every station.”
The 8.8-km Chembur-Wadala monorail is the first phase of the 19.5-km Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail corridor, which will be the second-longest monorail in the world after Japan’s Osaka. The project was originally to be completed by May 2011. A consortium of Larsen & Toubro and Malaysia’s Scomi Engineering are in charge of the project.