Those alighting at the Mumbra railway station are welcomed by a huge sign that reads ‘Mumbra Kausa ke bus stops, kaha gaya use dhoondo’ (Where have the bus stops of Mumbra Kausa gone).
Mumbra residents mostly ignore it, but a few say it hits a sore spot. While Thane Municipal Transport (TMC) buses ply along the Mumbra main road to the station every day, there are no bus stops for commuters. Buses seem to halt where crowds of people have gathered. While the familiar metal structures have vanished, there are poles, some bearing rusted, illegible signs, that serve as a sign for bus drivers and residents alike.
In Kakanagar, the bus stop is a pole placed among several similar poles. The Shankar Nagar bus stop is a rusting pole hidden behind several food stalls. It leans to a side and the sign is completely rusted. Residents, instead, use a set of trees as their marker.
“The last time we had a bus stop was around two years ago, before the road widening began. The bus stops were taken away, and they never came back,” said Shabir Ali, a resident of Kausa. “In 2016, after much furore, the poles were put up, but only at important places,” he added.
Several bus drivers in the area concede that they faced problems on the route. One bus driver, who did not want to be named, said, “As there is no designated spot, we stop wherever a lot of people are waiting. It increases our halts. We even have to face irate commuters who claim we are not halting at the right spot.”
According to Shehla Bano, a resident of Shankar Nagar, the traffic congestion in Mumbra is now at its peak. “The poles are not always visible from the road, and sometimes even directing people to our houses becomes a task,” she said.
Local residents say they have been trying to take up the matter with the Thane Municipal Corporation for some time, but various kinds of road work usually stalls the plan to get Mumbra’s bus stops back.
“First, it was the road widening, then the shop owners were protesting, and then the drainage work started. Because of all of this, the local residents suffer,” said Shakeel Ahmed, a local resident and college student.
When contacted, TMC spokesperson Sandeep Malwi said, “The bus stops were not put because of the ongoing drainage work. Once that is done and the roads are reconstructed, we shall place the stops back. In fact, we are going to push for it soon.”