The Mumbai Metro is needed, but let's Go Underground! Develop Mumbai for the long term!

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PRO METRO! PRO DEVELOPMENT! UNDERGROUND METRO FOR A WORLD CLASS MUMBAI!  #gounderground

Mumbai needs and wants better public transportation and a Metro will do a great deal to ease overcrowding on trains, as well as provide connectivity to underserved areas. We are in complete agreement that a Metro must be built in Mumbai BUT an above the ground, elevated Metro is NOT the answer.

Currently of the 7 planned Metro lines, only one is being built underground while the other 6 are elevated Metros being planned over the most vital and already congested arterial roads in the Western and Eastern suburbs of Mumbai.

Data and research clearly show that the island city is facing a decline in population while the suburbs are growing steadily. So why is there only one underground line?
 
All of Mumbai deserves an underground metro.
 
1  This is a long-term IRREVERSIBLE infrastructure project that will serve generations of Mumbaikers. Building underground will ensure that future connectivity is possible and the network can expand and serve areas which can be prioritized and constructed in phases.
An elevated Metro means that further connectivity is nearly impossible.
 
2  The loss of green cover and cutting of thousands of ancestral trees to make way for elevated Metro is an ecological disaster. Mumbai is facing rising pollution and researchers across the globe and in India are advocating for more trees to be planted.
An elevated Metro means the permanent loss of at least ten thousand trees across all the seven Metro lines under construction.
 
3  The arterial roads upon which the elevated Metro is being constructed are already at full capacity and facing traffic jams.  Three of many examples - having columns down roads like SV Road from Vile Parle to Bandra, JVLR Road from  Jogeshwari to Powai, and LBS Marg from Thane to Ghatkopar will cause permanent narrowing and bottlenecks.
An elevated Metro means further traffic congestion on already limited roads, as well as congestion on secondary roads for public buses and emergency vehicles as well as private cars.
 
4  An elevated Metro will squeeze amongst existing buildings, roads and narrow passages. In case of an emergency, the access for firefighters and ambulances would be extremely limited which could lead to a major disaster and loss of life. An underground Metro could be planned and built with global safety standards in mind.
An elevated Metro is a safety hazard even for a minor incident. Let’s not have a major occurrence and then wonder why the metro was not better planned.
 
5  The island city is actually seeing a decline in population while the suburbs are growing at a steady pace. If it’s possible to build underground in the island city, it is absolutely required in the suburbs as well.
 
The taxpaying citizens of the suburbs are contributing over Rs3600 crores every year towards property tax to the BMC whereas just about Rs1400 crores are contributed by the island city. Therefore, the suburbs deserve the same level of infrastructure as the island city.
An elevated metro for the most densely populated areas of the city points to a bias and unfairness in planning.
 
6  An elevated metro has to follow the same path as arterial roads, however the majority of the population lives in neighborhoods far from these roads. Also the arterial roads are usually already close to an existing mode of public transport. For example, elevated Metro 2B runs down SV Road from Bandra to Vile Parle at a distance of 500 meters from the Western Railway. Similarly Line 7 also runs parallel to the Western Express Highway. This is a massive redundancy in north south bandwidth, while there remains a huge shortfall in east west connectivity.
An elevated metro over arterial roads doesn’t serve residential neighborhoods.
 
7  The current plan for the elevated Metro includes the Metro going over several hurdles and impediments including the airport funnel at Juhu, the rail tracks at Bandra and Kurla, road flyovers on the Western and Eastern express highways, the Monorail, the Mithi river, and the Eastern Freeway to name a few.
The elevated Metro is thus poorly aligned and cannot safely cross the areas listed above without constructing monstrous structures.
 
8  Expert committees, including one at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, have prepared a well-studied report where they have recommended that the Metro must be under ground and not elevated above the ground. The Government had accepted the validity of the DPR (Detailed Project Report) prepared by RITES in 2014 however there was a U-turn by the government in 2015.
An elevated Metro ignores the advice of scores of experts in urban transport and planning, and environmentalists all of whom have a long-term outlook on what is best for the city.
 
9  Any Metro system is not designed for sharp turns yet in the existing plans, sharp turns are planned at  several locations. The elevated Metro tracks will be laid with curves that will require trains to operate at a speed that  may be half of the optimal speed. An underground Metro will not face the same constraints of turning with the road.
An elevated Metro may not meet the optimal speed and thus reduce the efficiency of the entire service.
 
IN CONCLUSION  #gounderground
 
It appears from media reports that the only reason for considering the elevated option was to save on costs and to quickly provide a new means of public transportation. But if this Metro is to serve the city for at least one century, shouldn’t we plan for the most optimal system?
 
Currently, it seems as though no one has given any thought to the social, environmental, land acquisition and disruption costs, not to mention the long-term disadvantages of an elevated Metro.
 
While an underground Metro is more expensive than an elevated one, the Metro should be looked at as an investment for its long-term and holistic benefits, rather than mere capital costs. It is primarily for these reasons that the Metro in most developed cities across the world are underground.
 
There are some cities, for example Bangkok, that have constructed elevated metros but it is important to take note that the roads there are two to three times wider than those in Mumbai, and are thus able to accommodate the Metro safely.
 
This is our Mumbai and these Metros are being built with our money so it’s time for us to come together and demand world-class infrastructure!
 
The benefits of Go Underground are:
 
1  In the future, lines can be expanded and connected without huge problems around land access.
2  Thousands of trees and the green cover that is so vital for the city will be preserved.
3  Arterial roads will remain free of columns and other impediments such as entry/exit staircases, and elevators that will further bottleneck already narrow roads.
4  An underground Metro can follow best practices around safety norms and so the risk of any accident is minimized.
5  The densely populated areas of the city that contribute a large amount to the state coffers will get the high quality service they deserve.
6  An underground Metro can follow optimal routes, and connect underserved residential neighborhoods.
7  An underground Metro does not have to go over large existing impediments such as highways and flyovers and rail tracks.
8  Long-term goal of a world-class city that adheres to environmental and urban planning standards will be met.

From Bandra to Chembur, from Versova to Powai, from Wadala to Kalyan, from Dahisar to Andheri - we citizens must make our voice heard!
 
Come on Mumbai, join us and sign this petition to ensure we #GoUnderground!