From luxe ferries to hop-on hop-off electric buses, here are the latest transport options for travellers to get around in Mumbai.
If something has rightfully earned the sobriquet of ‘Mumbai’s lifeline’, it has to be its local trains. Mumbaikars swear by the city’s railway network, so much so that over eight million of them ride on these trains daily to reach buzzing commercial areas as well as crowded residential suburbs alike! However, for travellers, the travelling business can be quite tricky. Getting around India’s financial capital requires a great deal of planning and knowledge of the local urban layout, especially when its crazy traffic doesn’t make driving around any easier. While in many neighbourhoods, pedestrian-friendly lanes have been nicely laid, for convenient commute around the city, only public transport can take you places, literally.
The latest transport avenues in Mumbai you can opt for:
Water taxi service
Venture away from the busy city and take a ferry ride to its far-off suburbs and nearby destinations. After much delay due to COVID-19 restrictions, the state government has finally announced the launch of water taxi services in the first week of January 2022. Initially, these state-of-the-art water taxis will be operated thrice a day daily, between 8am to 8pm.
The service will be offering connectivity on 12 routes with eight links from the Domestic Cruise Terminal (Bhaucha Dhakka) at Ferry Wharf to Navi Mumbai (Nerul, Belapur, Airoli, Vashi), Rewas (near Alibaug), Karanja, Dharamtar, and Kanhoji Angre Island. The other four routes are Belapur to Thane and Gateway of India, and Vashi to Thane and Gateway of India. Additionally, it will ferry to Elephanta Caves from the International Cruise Terminal at Mazgaon. At present, there are three operators ready; a fourth one could join after its catamaran is certified fit in the next two-three months, say Mumbai Port Trust officers.
The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) have come together for this project, with the operating license been handed over to Infinity Harbour Services LLP, West Coast Marine, and an organisation of wooden boat owners at Gateway of India. Infinity Harbour Services has a fleet of four boats — a 50-seater, a 40-seater, a 32-seater, and a 14-seater, whereas West Coast Marine has two — 12-seaters and a 20-seater.
These water taxis will cut down the commute time between South Mumbai to Navi Mumbai by 75 per cent. The fares from DCT to Navi Mumbai will be between INR1,200 and INR1,500 per passenger, while the fare to JNPT will be around INR750. The high fares are most likely to decrease in future with increase in the frequency of trips, and with newer boats featuring more efficient designs and engines joining the feat.
Ro-Pax ferry service
If you wish to be ferried around more luxuriously, allow M2M Ferries to take you from Mumbai to Mandwa near Alibaug on one of its Ro-Pax rides. The Roll-On-Roll-Off-Passenger service cuts the usual travel time from five hours by road (111km) to a mere hour-long journey by sea (19km), operating daily between the Domestic Cruise Terminal (Bhaucha Dhakka) at Ferry Wharf in Mumbai and Mandwa Jetty in Raigad.
Shortly after Mumbai finally launched its first Ro-Pax ride in February 2020, the city had gone into lockdown. The service has resumed now, offering travellers to get away from the city in no time through a cost-effective and efficient waterway connectivity. Access to popular Konkan destinations like Alibaug, Kihim, Kashid, and Murud has also been made easier through the service. A single ferry ride can carry 500 people and 150 vehicles (including buses, cars, bikes, and cycles). Expect onboard amenities like open-air seating, butler service, an A/C lounge, sanitised washrooms, designated pet areas, and even a refreshment service and bar to let you unwind as you witness a surreal sunset, floating at leisure!
HoHo bus service
Last but far from the least, the much-awaited HoHo bus service has recently found its way to Mumbai. Across the world, these hop-on hop-off buses offers tourists with tight schedules a quick way to explore a destination at their own pace and convenience. From Dublin’s spooky ghost bus tours, to London’s classic tour on an open-air double decker, the HoHo buses offer various themes, sights, and price ranges, suiting all kinds of travellers.
Take a scenic spin around the city without having to navigate your way through maps or scooting on the crowded local trains, by scoring yourself a window seat on the Mumbai HoHo bus. The city’s iconic BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) buses have a new avatar for tourists with this fleet of air-conditioned electric coaches. So far, the stops are CSMT, Byculla Zoo and Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Siddhivinayak Mandir, Band Stand Bandra, Juhu Garden, Juhu chowpatty, Nehru Planetarium, Mani Bhavan, Hanging Garden, and Gateway of India.
At a minimal charge of INR250 for a daily access pass, you can explore all the major hotspots at your own pace and take unlimited rides by getting off or on at any destination en route. With a run frequency of 30 minutes, they will be available daily from 9 am to 8 pm.