Many BEST bus commuters from Chembur wanting to go to South Mumbai prefer route No. 19 Ltd because the buses ply on most flyovers, including the one near JJ Hospital, saving considerable time. A trip from Chembur Naka to CST for Rs 12 reaches you to your destination in 45 minutes.
But on Tuesday it took more than a gruelling hour in an overcrowded single-decker. In fact commuters’ woes started at Sion itself with a huge traffic jam. There were no traffic police at the Chhagan Mitha petrol pump junction because of which vehicles turning right towards Sion station occupied four lanes, blocking traffic. After negotiating traffic jams at Sion hospital junction, where J Kumar Company has been building a flyover in fits and starts, Maheshwari Udyan, Dadar TT, and Hindmata, there was waiting the mother of all snarls at Bharatmata cinema.
Hundreds of vehicles millimetred their way through the diversion towards GD Ambekar Marg. Several traffic policemen were on duty, but clearly they had not bargained for the kind of congestion witnessed on Tuesday. A youth spoke for all commuters perhaps, when he said, “I should have taken the train.’’ A BMC official warned me in the morning about the “horrible jam’’, but I thought he was exaggerating given the traditional rivalry between the civic body and MMRDA, which contracted out the demolition and reconstruction of the flyover. But I realised his choice of adjective was more than justified.
Things were worse as the conductor did not inform commuters about the diversion. A man who bought a ticket to Lalbaug suddenly found the bus veering left to Kalachowkie. An elderly gentleman who wanted to alight at Nagpada was completely bewildered and in the absence of any clear assurance from the conductor, jumped out of the vehicle a little after Bharatmata junction.
From Ambedkar Marg, the bus wound its way through narrow lanes. Finally it returned to Babasaheb Ambedkar Road to Byculla before hitting the engineering marvel called the JJ flyover. Tomorrow I am taking the train.