Public Transport in Mumbai involves the transport of millions of its citizens by train, road and water. Over 88% of the commuters in Mumbai use public transport (suburban trains or buses). It is the most convenient, efficient and cheap form of transport to a population largely without sufficient income to afford cars. Mumbai has the largest organized bus transport network among major Indian cities. But the train network is constantly struggling to cope with the growing population. A train compartment is usually filled with over three times the passengers it was meant for at peak hours.
Mumbai’s public transport primarily comprises:
This system is run by a government organization Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), the “B” formerly standing for “Bombay”. It has a fleet of red single and double-decker buses. There are air conditioned and low floor buses as well.
The BEST bus are a very convenient way to travel around Mumbai especially when the train stations are far away or when the local trains do not take you to the place you want to visit. During Peak hours it is best to get buses from the starting stops so that you do not have to stand the entire journey. Now a days the destination is written on the front and side of the bus along with the route number. Generally the front is in Hindi and on the side is in English; so it is easy for both the locals as well as the tourists. There are three types of buses :-
1) Ordinary Bus.
2) Limited Bus.
3) AC Bus.
The Ordinary Bus takes longer time to reach destination as it stops at most locations. The Limited Bus stops at only important locations. The only disadvantage of traveling in a bus is you’d get tired soon because of the pollution and crowd during peak hours. A solution for this is the AC bus.
As of January 2009, the minimum fare is Rs 3.50 for ordinary bus, Rs 5 for limited bus and Rs 22 for AC bus. For more and detailed information about fares and routes you can visit their website, which very helpful and gives all the information on numbers, routes and fares for each one.
The Mumbai Suburban Railway is the oldest in Asia, it was founded in 1847. It is owned by Indian Railways and is operated by Western Railways and Central Railways. With a length of 303 km, it claims to have the highest passenger density in the world, 6.1 million people daily. It has three lines: the Western Line, the Central Line, and the Harbour Line.
- Western Railway, running between Churchgate and Virar.
- Central Railway, running between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Formerly known as Victoria Terminus [V.T.]) and Karjat and Kasara.
- Harbour Line, running between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Formerly known as Victoria Terminus [V.T.]) and Panvel.
- A new line has extended the Harbour Line from Panvel to Karjat.
These suburban trains are popularly known as Locals and they run from 4 AM till 1 AM. Mumbai suburban services have various such designations (not all of them official, but in wide use). A ‘fast’ train or ‘fast local’ is essentially one that is fast (runs express, skipping stops) until a certain station, and from that station onwards runs like a local, e.g., the Virar Fast runs express to Borivli, and then from there on is a local. The Karjat Fast is an express until Kalyan. The Ambarnath Fast Local goes CST – Dadar – Thane and thereafter stops at all stations on its route. The Borivli Fast Local used to run (1980s) from Jogeshwari to Mumbai Central non-stop.
The term ‘superfast local’ is sometimes used too, e.g., for trains that skip stations to reach Virar early in the down direction so they are available earlier to carry more passengers in the up direction later. On WR (Western Railway) lines, the term ‘fast’ train is often applied to one that runs as an express until Bandra or Andheri. A ‘double-fast’ is one that runs as an express for an even longer stretch compared to the ‘fast’ services.
On CR (Central Railway) lines, the term ‘fast’ train is often applied to any train that runs as an express to Kalyan, or until its terminus. There used to be a Kalyan Fast that ran non-stop from Ghatkopar to Bombay VT (now CST). The term ‘semi-fast’ is sometimes applied to trains that run express until Thane. The term ‘bada-fast’ (Hindi ‘bada’= big) was used for services running express between Borivli – Bandra – Marine Lines, and is sometimes synonymous with ‘double-fast’. The term ‘triple-fast’ has been reported (from a long time back) for express services between Dahisar and Marine Lines.
In year 1992, Mumbai’s WR and CR introduced ‘Ladies Special’ trains. A ‘Complete Ladies Special’ train has all its coaches reserved for women passengers. A ‘Semi-Ladies Special’ is a train with a few (e.g., 3) coaches reserved for women. These designations can be combined with ‘fast’, ‘slow’, etc., so you have terms such as ‘Slow Complete Ladies Special’, ‘Semi-Fast Semi-Ladies’, etc.
The most useful service operates from Churchgate heading north to stations such as Charni Rd (for Chowpatty Beach), Mumbai Central, Mahalaxmi (for the dhobi ghat), Vile Parle (for the domestic airport), Andheri (for the international airport) and Borivali (for Sanjay Gandhi National Park). Other suburban lines operate from CST to Byculla (for Victoria Gardens), Dadar, and as far as Neral (for Matheran). Trains
run from 4am till 1am. From Churchgate, 2nd-/1st-class fares are Rs 5/41 to Mumbai Central, Rs 9/76 to Vile Parle or Andheri and Rs 11/102 to Borivali. Avoid rush hours when trains are jam-packed, even in 1st class – watch your valuables. Women should take advantage of the ladies-only carriage.
- Black and yellow metered taxis
- Radio Taxis: Silver Green run by Meru and Yellow Red by Gold cabs and Black by Mega cabs.
- Blue and silver air-conditioned metered taxis known as Cool Cabs
- Black and yellow metered Autorickshaws which are not allowed in the Central area (between Colaba & Mahim in the West and Colaba and Sion in the East) of the city.
The Taxis arrived in 1911 to complement horse wagons. The black and yellow Fiat taxis in Mumbai, are integral part of the city’s heritage and have been depicted in numerous Bollywood movies. These metered taxis ply throughout Mumbai and have monopoly from Bandra to Churchgate on the Western line and Sion to Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus on the Central line. Beyond Sion and Bandra auto rickshaws are not allowed and one has to hire a taxi. However, between Sion to Thane and Bandra to Bhayandar, Taxis and autorickshaws ply. A mechnical meter decides the fare and is proportional to the distance traveled.
Number of taxis (cabs): About 55,000-52,000.
Recently Radio cab services have been introduced by some private companies. These taxis are brand new air-conditioned cars fitted with GPS and electronic metres. Fare is same as that of Cool Cabs. Presently operated by three companies: Meru (Green Silver), Gold cabs (Yellow Red) and Mega cabs (Black). However these taxis need to be booked in advance by calling their call center number. Recently the police revealed that it is required by law that the driver of an unengaged taxi take you to where you want to go, distance and time regardless. If the driver does not comply, one simply needs to call the police (dial 100) and mention the taxi’s license number and the driver’s name. The act of calling the police on your cell phone usually makes the driver comply with your request to be taken to your destination.
Auto Rickshaws are three-wheeler scooters, which can accommodate three people. Apart from Buses, Trains and Taxis, Auto rickshaws play an important role of public transport in Mumbai. As per the new ruling of the Bombay High Court, all auto rickshaws use CNG as the fuel. Auto rickshaws are not permitted to enter the suburbs beyond Sion and Bandra in South Mumbai. Auto rickshaws registered in Mumbai are not allowed travel beyond the municipal limits of Mumbai. They have been allowed to ply between Sion to Mulund in the Central Suburbs and up to Mankhurd on the Harbour line. People who wish to travel beyond Mumbai to suburbs like Vashi, Airoli have to catch another rickshaw. In the western suburbs they are allowed to ply between Bandra and Bhayandar only.
Recently the police revealed that it is required by law that the driver of an unengaged taxi take you to where you want to go, distance and time regardless. If the driver does not comply, one simply needs to call the police (dial 100) and mention the cab’s license number and the driver’s name. The act of calling the police on your cell phone usually makes the driver comply with your request to be taken to your destination. A mechanical meter decides the fare and is proportional to distance travelled.
If you are wondering how much you have to pay for the numbers on the meters, then download the iPhone app MeterDown for Taxis and Auto rickshaws. This is updated often for exact prices.
- Ferry services connect Vashi (in Navi Mumbai) to the Gateway of India.
- Ferry services are available to visit Elephanta Caves and to nearby places such as Alibaug, Rewas and Mandwa.
- Ferry services is also avilable in northern Mumbai, across the Manori Creek. The barges operate at regular intervals across the shallow creek linking Manori to Malad
- Ferry also connects Versova and Madh Island