The gap between two Monorail services is of 22 minutes, while during peak hours, only eight services ply. (File)
IN 10 months since it started operations last March, the country’s only Monorail plying between Chembur to Sant Gadge Chowk recorded a total ridership of 33.84 lakh commuters — 10 per cent of its expected ridership.
Before the service began on the entire 19.54-km Chembur-Wadala-Sant Gadge Chowk (Byculla) stretch on March 3, 2019, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) used to operate the Monorail from Chembur to Wadala (8 km) with a daily ridership of 7,000 commuters.
The MMRDA had expected the daily ridership would increase to one lakh commuters after the entire route was thrown open to the people.
The numbers, however, suggest otherwise.
According to the MMRDA, until December 31, 2019, only 33.84 lakh people had traveled on the Monorail since March. The MMRDA earned Rs 6.8 crore from ticket sales, which meant that on an average, the monthly ridership of the Monorail was up to 3 lakh commuters. The daily ridership, meanwhile, was 10,000. This was when MMRDA was expecting at least one lakh people to take the Monorail everyday.
A senior MMRDA official said, “It costs about Rs 10 crore to maintain and operate Monorail service for a year. This means the authority is suffering a loss of Rs 3 crore every year.”
When contacted, MMRDA Commissioner R A Rajeev said, “To increase ridership, we have been trying to increase the number of trains. But globally, only two or three companies produce Monorail rakes. We use has a very unique guided beam on which rakes ply... due to which we are not getting a good respons from companies... Scomi Internationals provided us the rakes during the first phase of the project.”
“To increase the number of services, we need at least 10 more trains, for which we have made a provision of Rs 200 crore,” he added.
At present, MMRDA has five Monorail trains. Among these, while four ply simultaneously, one train is kept on stand by for emergencies. “The gap between two Monorail services is of 22 minutes. During peak hours, only eight services ply. If more trains are brought in, will try to bridge this gap by three minutes, helping us achieve the one-lakh ridership mark,” an MMRDA official said.
“To overcome losses, we plan to generate revenue from non-fare sources. For instance, we plan to commercially exploit the Wadala depot. We are also working on transit-oriented development model, under which, more commercial shops will be set up and given on rent. Already, a tender has been floated to appoint a consultant in this regard,” the official added.
The Monorail took a decade to come up at a cost of Rs 2,700 crore. Currently, a Monorail train has four coaches that can accommodate around 600 commuters. In a day, Monorail provides 97 services.