End to travel woes? Commuting in Thane may get better by 2014

Thane (TNA):  Commuting today for Thaneites is no doubt miles away from being bearable despite there being ample avenues available for making it comfortable.

Poorly maintained Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) buses to stubborn auto drivers who never agree to ply to your destination citing lame excuses to jam packed local trains round-the-clock, a comfortable travel for the average commuter is a distant dream. While some relief was granted for train commuters by introducing some shuttle services in Kalyan direction, there was no visible improvement in the quality of travel for Thane residents. Bus travel remained inconvenient with delayed frequencies and rickety buses and some incidents like molestation of a young girl aboard TMT bus and some arguments over loose change turning ugly with staff.

There was no respite for auto commuters either except the ruling to scrap old autos.

Experts and residents agree that Thane needs proper planning of transportation facilities. No other city within the MMR sees so many transport undertakings plying but despite this there still exists a large hole to be bridged when it comes to servicing the transport sector of the city.

Along with Thane Municipal Transport (TMT), there are transport buses from Mira-Bhayander, Kalyan, Navi Mumbai and even Mumbai servicing areas in Thane, but these haven’t helped serve the around 18 lakh population of the city. Reason: lack of intelligent planning, coordination and political will to make transportation comfortable for Thaneites.

The year 2014 may see some change in transportation for Thaneites. Be it increase in the fleet size of TMT buses to more shuttles and increased train speed on the Central Railway (CR), to having more share auto routes in far off areas of the city, commuters can expect some respite from the harrowing commute in the coming year.

The TMT is likely to get new buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme that will possibly ease the commute for residents. “We will introduce and connect new areas of the city once we get the new buses. Simultaneously, we are also on a modernization mode where commuters can get information about the services even while waiting at bus stops,” said TMT manager D Tekale.

The regional transport office (RTO) is planning to allocate new share-auto stands. Also, several steps like enhanced safety checks on private buses, scrapping old autos and releasing some new permits may prove beneficial for commuters in the coming year.

The railways that get the lion’s share of passenger traffic with daily around 6.5 lakh commuters using the services, may see increase in train speed after conversion of power system to alternating current system next year, followed by introduction of Thane shuttle services in suburbs on the North.

“Often we see many buses on the same route belonging to different transport bodies and all of them are not running to their capacity. If the transport bodies coordinate among themselves and run their buses at regulated intervals, there can be business for everyone,” Also, some buses can also be routed to other areas where there is not enough frequency,”said Prabhakar Shinde, a resident.

“Proper density based bus route planning, maintained buses and adequate autos and stands spread over the city to more Thane local trains is needed urgently,” says Vinayak More, a resident of Vartak Nagar.

Planners need to think about requirements of commuters today and also understand the geographical condition and available infrastructure in the city while designing future transportation modes, said urban planner Sulakshana Mahajan.

“There is rampant mismanagement in TMT services. The administration should ensure there is adequate maintenance of buses,” says activist Chandrahas Tawade from Thane. Others said the need for looking at other modes of commuting like mono and metros was also the need of the hour.