Alternate Civic Response to the Mumbai Rains Bridge Collapse

A key foot-over bridge that runs over the Western Railway tracks came crashing down this morning. The incident came on top of heavy rainfall that the city & suburbs have been experiencing since late last evening.

As expected, the bridge collapse has thrown rail & road traffic out of gear, with everyone’s morning commute being plunged into chaos. Train services are down and the roads are expectedly grid-locked. But what if there was an alternate way to handle an unforeseeable situation such as this. Sitting nice and dry in the comfort of my home, the morning chai seemed to have sparked off the voices in my head.

Mumbai Bridge Collapse – Image via Indian Express URL:

Mumbai, for all the shortcomings & criminal civic neglect, is still one of those rare cities in India with a functional public-transportation system. A bit better coordination on behalf of the multiple public transport entities and everyone can be better off in a crisis situation like the bridge collapse today.

We know that Andheri is at the epicentre and it is going to be late in the day, before services are back to normal. But, the tracks are clear between Vile-Parle to Churchgate in the South; and Jogeshwari to Virar in the North.

In this alternate scenario brewing in my head, a single disaster management entity would ensure proper coordination between the BEST which is the public bus services provider and the Western Railway. So, for example, passengers travelling from the North end of the rail network, could take the train till Jogeshwari, get off at both, the East as well as the West and hop onto a feeder bus service that would take them via road, to Vile Parle. They could then board a train from Vile Parle station and continue their journey south, into the city. The same would be applicable for commuters travelling from the South to the North.

A common Mumbai City Transportation Card could be used to track ticketing revenues. This way, the commuters, transportation authorities and service providers – everyone could be happier. Not that difficult a process and system to implement either.

Then again, this is Mumbai – a directionally deficient megapolis, in a continuous downward spiral of chaos and ruin. Caught in a vice like grip of greedy politicians and an administration that seems to have their heads screwed on wrong, a functional disaster management process seems like a far-flung dream…

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