Two final thoughts, or trains of thought, about the new Sealink.
1) I would like to know where else in the world you'd find a sign at a bridge that says "No Bullock Carts". Now you know why I wouldn't live anywhere else.
2) Apart from bullock-carts, buses and rickshaws and two-wheelers are not allowed on the Sealink. Which means it is a bridge designed pretty much only for cars.
There are something like 500,000 cars in Bombay. Say one to a family of 5 -- itself generous -- and you've got a bridge catering to 2.5 million Bombayites. Out of somewhere between 15 and 20 million who live here.
Or consider a back-of-the-envelope calculation. (What's below is taken largely, and lazily, from this post).
Three years ago, IIT-Bombay did a study concerning the Pedder Road flyover. The IIT team found that 60,000 cars use Pedder Road every day. Let's inflate that to 100,000 given the three years that have passed, and let's say all those cars use the BWSL. According to this report, each car carries an average of 1.75 people. In other words, cars on the Sealink are carrying 175,000 people a day.
Sound like a big number?
But how many trains pull into Churchgate? Assume they arrive within 4 minutes of each other on average. In an hour, that's 15 trains. (In a day, Western Railway alone runs 980 trains on its entire system, so 15 is actually an underestimate. Never mind). Each 12-car train is supposed to carry about 2200 people, though during rush hour, the load can reach 6000. (Figures extrapolated generously from 9-car train figures here). Let's take an average of 5000 per train in rush hour: that's 75,000 people arriving in Churchgate each hour. Broadly similar numbers for VT, so that's 150,000 people arriving downtown every hour.
What does the back of our envelope show? That in one hour during the morning rush hour, nearly as many people (150K) arrive in downtown Bombay by train than travel both ways (175K) by car on BWSL all day.
This does not take into account bus traffic, which will change this comparison substantially. But this point remains valid: far more commuters in Bombay travel by rail than by car. In fact, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority estimates that 88 per cent of this city's commuters travel by trains and buses. Nobody from that 88 per cent is using the BWSL.
Look at all these figures: 2.5 million out of 15m; 150K/hr vs 175K/day; 88% percent of commuters not in cars -- look at them and at nothing else about the BWSL, and you still have to wonder. In what sense does this new bridge address the commuting headaches of Bombay's residents?
Maybe I'll take the bullock cart ...