Mumbai Metropolitan Region : Railway Guided Development
Greater Mumbai Area covers what was previously an archipelago of seven islands connected by low lying lands to form a megapolis through land reclamation and expansion of rail networks. The Mumbai Metropolitan region constitutes of the city of Greater Mumbai and its satellite towns which include 7 municipal corporations and 15 smaller municipal councils. Each of the satellite towns house both jobs and residents, and follow node based growth around the suburban rail stations. The city of Greater Mumbai has multiple job centres. The transportation infrastructure connects these to the satellite towns with a complex interplay of suburban rail, metro, monorail, public buses, auto-rickshaws and significant pedestrian modes. Mumbai exemplifies corridor based transit oriented development with extremely high public transportation mode shares.
Mumbai is the capital of State of Maharashtra in India, and its economy is based on financial services, IT enabled services and media/entertainment. The city of Greater Mumbai is geographically divided into 3 main regions, Mumbai island city (25% of the population (Census, 2011), the Eastern Suburbs (30% of the population (Census, 2011) and the Western Suburbs (44% of the population (Census, 2011). The population trends have stabilised in the island city and now growth is expected to slow down by 2034, but the population in the suburbs is expected to grow up to 80% of the total population by 2034 (LEA Associates, 2008). This diffusion of population is correlated with the transformation of Mumbai from a predominantly mono-centric city to a poly-centric city with new business centres in the suburbs. The city credits its rail network, which carries over 7.5 million passengers daily (MCGM, 2005), for enabling this diffusion.
The first passenger train in India, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR), ran in 1853 in erstwhile Bombay (Mumbai) Presidency over a distance of 34 km, with the primary aim of transporting cotton and other raw materials from the Indian hinterlands to Bombay port for shipment to Europe (Alkekar, 2014). Since then, the railways in Mumbai has expanded to 465 km in five corridors: two on the Western Line, two on the Central Line, and one on the Harbour Line (connecting Mumbai to Navi Mumbai). With the support of strong network of railways, the city that was confined to the island with partial expansion to the suburbs and a population of about 6 million in the 1970s, grew into a metropolitan region with population of about 14 million in 1990s and 22 million in 2012.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region as of today is spread over 4355 sq.km with 8 municipal corporations, including Greater Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Ulhasnagar, Mira-Bhayandar, Bhiwandi Nizampur, Navi Mumbai and Vasai-Virar, 13 municipal councils and 996 villages. It has a population of over 20.7 million and is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world (PIB, 2015). The two big cities of this metropolitan of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai support the densest suburban railway network in this region.
The city of Navi Mumbai (New Bombay) is separated from Mumbai by the bay. It was conceptualised in 1970s with a strategic focus on decongesting Mumbai’s population, port operations and industries. Even though the average population density of Navi Mumbai is considerably less (about 4167 persons/sq.km) as compared to Mumbai (about 20,000 persons/sq.km), its net residential density is very close to the threshold (5000 persons/sq.km) needed for sustaining transit systems.
Railway Guided Development
The case of Mumbai Metropolitan Region illustrates that efficient urban transport systems are critical elements of the sustainable urban development. An incredible 88% of all travel in Greater Mumbai is by bus and rail; this illustrates the popularity and necessity of having an effective and efficient public transport system, particularly the railways (Sehgal & Surayya, 2011). Suburban rail system is the primary commuting mode in Mumbai metropolitan region, with over 52% of the total daily trips to work made by this mode of transport. Railways in Mumbai Metropolitan Region perform the dual function of connecting the multiple CBDs in Mumbai city and extending connectivity to the suburbs. The high average trip length of 24 km (LEA Associates, 2008) for this mode indicates the regional connectivity provided by the network. Railway has guided and continues to guide the growth of Mumbai in several ways:
• City form: The key driver of Mumbai’s compactness is its physical geography (Rode, 2007). The linear form of Mumbai city was lent to the railway corridors and growth is seen around the station nodes on all the three main lines. TOD principles suggest intensification activities around transit stations; in case of Mumbai, this began organically.
• Affordable Housing: Firstly, the high cost of housing in Greater Mumbai invariably forces people, mostly the middle income population who can afford it, to move to distant suburbs in the north and east. The suburban rail network offers a feasible option for their work commute needs. Secondly, the urban poor, who cannot afford the suburban housing end up squatting on the derelict land along railway lines, along canals and under bridges. The slums are in the city core (eg Dharavi, Mankhurd) because of proximity to eastern and western suburban lines and new slums have now proliferated on the urban fringes along the railway lines (eg. Mankhurd). In Mumbai, access dictates location, proximity and daily routines more than in most other cities, particularly for the urban poor (Rode, 2007) and the middle income group.
• Affordable transport: The average monthly expenses (Rs. 400) for suburban rail commuting are the second lowest (just higher than company bus) amongst all modes available in Metropolitan Mumbai (LEA Associates, 2008). This indicates the affordability of railways for majority of households, with median household income of Rs. 7000 in Mumbai.
• Multiple CBDs: Mumbai was predominantly a monocentric city, with a tidal pattern of commuting with a directional ratio as high as 80: 20 southbound in the mornings and reverse in the evenings (Balakrishnan). But, the city has now turned poly-centric with new business centres in suburbs such as Bandra-Kurla (diamond bourses and government jobs), Lower Parel (finance, insurance, television and print media), Andheri-Kurla (hospitality, airport), SEEPZ (electronics manufacture and export, IT and BPO) Malad (film production and media houses) and Goregoan (film production), coordinated under the strong railways network.
• Station and station area planning: Station areas in Greater Mumbai, like all older cities in India, are predominantly occupied by street vendors, parking for auto-rickshaw, drop off, parking for two wheelers and bus stops for feeder modes such as buses. In a study on Ghatkopar station precinct , EMBARQ found that on an average, 50% people walk or use NMT, 15% use IPT and 34% use buses to reach the station (EMBARQ India, 2014). Also, 12% land is under commercial use and over 29% of the land-use is under mixed use, inviting higher footfall. These figures are representative of most station areas in Mumbai. To alleviate the issues arising from unplanned commercial use and conflict for road space, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) developed a Station Area Traffic Improvement Schemes (SATIS), whereby skywalks, foot over bridges, separate parking areas for auto-rickshaws and taxis were built at four crowded suburban railway stations. In Navi Mumbai, where stations and station areas were planned and implemented much later, the stations were scientifically designed for quick discharge of passengers that improve the experience of commuters. The station buildings are designed to leverage the commercial space above, and also provide adequate parking facilities, which invites more activities to the station than only commute needs.
Box 29: Off-Street Parking near Ghatkopar
EMBARQ in 2014 conducted a study on off-street parking regulations around station areas in Mumbai with a case example on Ghatkopar station. Ghatkopar station is located along the central suburban railway line connecting South Mumbai to the Eastern suburbs. It is an important transit point on the central railway line as all trains stop at Ghatkopar. Additionally, Ghatkopar is planned as the end terminal for the Mumbai Metro Line 1, making it a multi-modal interchange. EMBARQ studied the immediate station area and key findings are as under (source: EMBARQ).
Most commuters access the station by walk or using feeder services like BEST buses or auto-rickshaws. Private vehicle usage to access the station is almost negligible. There are two major concerns that may affect TOD areas in Mumbai due to high parking provisions; increase in traffic congestion therefore decreasing safe access to transit, and a pedestrian unfriendly built environment. The overall TOD zone is representative of a good mix of land-uses, with high population densities, relatively low built densities and low FSI consumption. Older housing typologies like urban village clusters, informal settlements, and older walk-up apartment types have smaller dwelling units and low parking provisions, thereby housing more people close to transit. Due to redevelopment, new housing typologies in the area have larger dwelling unit sizes catering to higher income groups with high parking provisions, thereby housing fewer people and more cars closer to transit.
At present the overall parking provision in the block as well as the FSI consumed is low. However, an optimum model for a TOD precinct would show extremely low parking provision in the area with high FSI consumed. Analysis showed that vehicle ownership in the area is quite high compared to that at city level, but use of private modes for work trips is fairly low. Simultaneously, parking provision in the area is high such that it over provides for parking based on projected growth in income and aspirations. This can be said based on the parking occupancy analysis that reveals peak period parking occupancy is between 40-60%, which means that approximately 680 parking spaces remain vacant. Overprovision of parking not only, incentivises car use, thereby reversing the dependency on public transit, but also increases traffic congestion within the TOD zone. Opinion surveys within the TOD zone reveal that most people are fairly satisfied with the walking environment in the area, but find it cumbersome to walk in the area due to traffic congestion.
Ghatkopar station area is a fairly old precinct with some buildings that date back to 100 years ago. Older DCRs required much lower parking supply and therefore several old buildings in the area have little to no parking. However, new developments in the area consume up to 4 FSI and have extremely high parking provisions. Current FSI consumption is low and only going to increase due to redevelopment around the station area. Based on current parking regulations this will only increase parking supply by almost three-folds, subsequently increasing congestion levels. If parking norms are unbundled from dwelling units, parking supply can be capped at a certain maximum limit, while the number of dwelling units can be increased. This will ensure that the increase in FSI will bring in more people densities closer to transit and not as many cars.
• Feeder systems and last mile connectivity: Intermodal connections with feeder buses and rickshaws for last mile connectivity are integrated into the development and design of stations. Close to 50% of the operational routes of the biggest bus operator in Mumbai, Bombay Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), pertain to the feeder routes providing last mile connectivity between the suburban rail network and the residential and office areas (Vasudevan & Mulukutla, 2014). Nearly 34% of the trips to Ghatkopar railway station are on BEST buses (EMBARQ India, 2014).
• Other transport modes: Given that the median walking time for household in Greater Mumbai to the nearest bus stop is 5 minutes as compared to between 10-20 minutes to the nearest suburban train station (Baker, Basu, Crooper, Lall, & Takeuchi, 2005), the bus network acts not only as feeders, but also as a primary mode of commute. Buses carry volumes (4,000,000 passengers in Greater Mumbai (Vasudevan & Mulukutla, 2014)) similar to the suburban rail network in the city. Other mass transit modes in Greater Mumbai include metro and monorail. One metro corridor with a current average weekday ridership of 263,000 is complete (out of the nine corridors proposed). A 20 km monorail corridor is also planned in Greater Mumbai for connecting the other island nodes (other than railway inter-changes) with eastern suburbs. These additional corridor aim to fill in the transportation linkage gaps that exist in the east-west direction of the metro region to reduce redundant travel in the north south direction for accessing interchange terminals, in the case of Navi Mumbai as well, other modes share commuters. City’s Buses carry 150,000 passengers daily on an average. Navi Mumbai is also in the implementation phase of its own metro network with four corridors. The city is also expanding the suburban railway system with three new suburban rail corridors and doubling the capacity of an existing corridor.
Suburban railway system played significant role in the growth pattern of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The heavy demand on the system has prompted the planning authorities and the Railways of the region to invest in continuous upgrades and augmentation to the system. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the regional development authority, formulated the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) to guide the development of transportation infrastructure in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The Mumbai Development Plan 2014-34 proposed to tap into the influence of the rail network further and to adopt TOD principles for the development of all station areas on the three suburban lines, metro and monorail corridors in the city of Greater Mumbai (UDRI, 2015). The stations are classified into 3 categories (Order 1, 2 and 3) and varying influence areas respectively (1000m, 500m and 300m) for intense development and value capture of the transit networks. The classification is based on the number of the passenger boarding and alighting at the stations and possible interchange connections with other transit modes. The station areas are to be developed as mixed commercial-residential zones to decrease the need for commuting and encourage walk and bike trips. (Shah, et al., 2014).
The cities of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai along with the rest of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region typify regional transit oriented development ever since the first railway line. The total passenger traffic growth in this suburban rail network has grown 6 times since its early beginnings; but the capacity augmentation has been slow (2.3 times).
Box 30: The CIDCO - Navi Mumbai Story
The story of Navi Mumbai’s growth has been shaped by the integration of affordable housing, quality infrastructure and public transport networks. This region of 2 million residents is developed on a suburban rail network that connects it to the Greater Mumbai Metropolitan region. This form of Transit Oriented Development was one of the first in India and still remains one of the few Indian cities integrating public transportation mass transit corridor with residential, office and commercial land-use.
The first rail connection between modern Mumbai and Navi Mumbai was established with the construction of the Mankhurd- Vashi bridge in 1990s and provided impetus to the growth of Navi Mumbai as an affordable housing option to Mumbai. The rail infrastructure costs were shared by CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation) and the Railways in the ratio of 67:33. Bonds were issued to raise the capital ($300 million at 1990 prices) for rail infrastructure and user surcharges were collected. The current rail network is 52 km long and has 14 stations which are designed to leverage the commercial space above the stations, provide for quick discharge of the passengers from the platforms and adequate parking facilities. Intermodal connections with feeder buses and rickshaws for last mile connectivity are integrated into the development and design of these stations. The city of Navi Mumbai also operates a bus service under the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, the network has a fleet strength of 411 buses and carry 150,000 passengers daily.
This pattern is very similar to European cities which were destroyed by the war and invested in rail transportation to guide the urban spatial growth. Paris, Stockholm invested in ‘new towns’ to connect the central city using suburban commuter rail rather than highway investments as in the US. This gave rise to ‘pearls on a string’ urban structure in Europe where high density was observed around commuter station nodes. As the pearls grew with upgraded transportation, the pearl-chain development transformed into a corridor city. The stations known as nodes in Navi Mumbai now form nuclei of decentralised concentration. The development authority in Navi Mumbai is expanding the suburban railway in the region under ‘CIDCO Smart City Plan’.
Expansion of Suburban Railway Network under the CIDCO Smart City Plan
The CIDCO Smart City Plan has earmarked massive investments in expansion of suburban rail infrastructure through a partnership with the Railways. About ₹1769 crore (or $270 million) are being planned to be invested by CIDCO alone, with additional investments from Railways. This plan consists three new suburban rail corridors, from Belapur to Uran, from Panvel to Karjat and from Thane to Vashi via Turbhe and Nerul and doubling the capacity of an existing corridor from Belapur to Panvel.
The biggest project will be the Nerul/Belapur-Seawoods-Uran rail corridor that will connect Navi Mumbai to Uran, a distance of 27 km. 10 new stations will be built along this corridor with intermodal connectivity to both the proposed airport and the existing port (JNPT).
The public transportation network in the Navi Mumbai region and the resulting mobility choices influences the quality of life for its citizens. The transit component of “Transit Oriented Development” for CIDCO Navi Mumbai South continues to focus on improvement of suburban rail and introduction of other modes such as ropeway and metro to compliment the demand on suburban network.
Consequently the trains are crowded beyond capacity, some estimates tipping it at 16 persons/sq.m (UDRI, 2015) in a Mumbai train. Also, in Greater Mumbai, the traditional north-south transportation profile now has started transforming into east-west transportation profile thereby necessitating new investments to connect the eastern and western suburbs. Some important lessons to be learned from the rail story of Mumbai are:
• More than 50% of trips to work in Mumbai are made by walk alone. Such high shares of pedestrian volumes can be retained only with suitable parking reforms that reduce off-street parking minimums to zero near nodes on the suburban network and impose parking maximums, and thereby provide safe and connected walking environment.
• Mumbai’s existing densities are high enough to offer financial sustainability to public transportation investments. Within the existing nodes, the focus is on the “shift and improve” mechanisms by improving public transportation operations. It is currently pursued by prioritising allocation for public transport, NMT and pedestrian facilities, and supporting usage of roadways for public transport (buses) through signal prioritisation, roadway allocation etc.
• Affordable housing stock is being built in the northern suburbs and satellite towns of Mumbai (Kalyan-Dombivali, Thane) resulting in longer commutes.
While in American cities, the transit to suburbs focus on reducing automobile usage of the rich, in Mumbai, middle and lower income groups reside in suburbs and already use public transportation as the main mode of commute; thereby requiring a focus on improving the quality of public transport.
The Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) in Mumbai in 16 years (1995- 2011) was able to house at least 350,000 slum dwellers in formal housing and 100, 000 in transit housing, mostly in situ. But the SRS model of rehabilitation consumes too much time due to implementation in a plot-by-plot manner, and is practical only in areas with high land value (Banerjee, 2011). The pace of development required is much higher in Mumbai where 40% of the population is still residing in slums covering only 9% of land (MCGM, 2014).
Mumbai Development Plan 2014-2034 proposed to increase FAR in the city; but without rationalising the values to the existing densities and provision of urban amenities. TOD presents opportunity in the city to develop the low density newer nodes on the global TOD norms of density and diversity while also managing people densities in the highly dense older nodes without worsening the urban experience.
• Housing and transportation are bundled goods in an economic sense that have to be matched with the demand in the market. 130 thousand luxury tenements lie vacant in Mumbai (Frank Knight Real Estate Research Report) while 1.1 million affordable housing units are required in Mumbai (MCGM, 2014). The oversupply of type of houses that do not match the demand indicate the need to rethink the housing strategy for Mumbai. If densification is the objective through a TOD policy, then the rationale for limiting the tenement sizes and retaining some component for affordable and rental housing is unavoidable in TOD projects. TOD enablers such as overlay zones will grant provisions for modifications to DCRs to allow separate provisions/norms for affordable housing in Mumbai.
The Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS) conducted by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) recorded an increase of private vehicle ownership over a period between 1996 to 2005 for cars and two-wheelers per 1000 persons, to the tune of 52 to 82 and 50 to 97, respectively (LEA Associates, 2008). Compared to other Asian cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Delhi, Mumbai shows very low car ownership ratios and very little modal share of cars (2%); but very high off-street parking norms (EMBARQ India, 2014). This is primarily done to reduce on-street congestion due to parking; however, in effect is encouraging car dependency; thereby inviting more cars on-street. High norms for off-street parking compete for land in presence of pressing issues like housing. Travel demand management mechanisms such as congestion charging, parking maximums and increasing on-street parking prices in CBD areas will push people to use public transportation.
Stations around the suburban, metro and monorail corridors in Mumbai suffer from lack of proper design of streets and sidewalks infrastructure, competing demands by pedestrians, street vendors and intermediate personal transport (IPT), lack of information about feeder systems and lack of street furniture and other public amenities; factors that greatly influence the attractiveness of walking to the transit stations (EMBARQ India, 2014). Attempts to implement SATIS in Mumbai did not achieve the intended outcomes of facilitating pedestrian movements through the construction of elevated pedestrian walkways. The Mumbai Development Plan 2014-34 now makes the intent to prioritise pedestrian movement at grade, through segregated, comfortable, car-free zones in the immediate vicinity of the transit or intended TOD stations clear.
The TOD policy has been formulated in the Development Plan, but the specific development control regulations (DCRs) are yet to be framed to address parking, urban form and inclusionary housing needs within the influence zones of these target stations (Shah, et al., 2014). Going forward, pro-active interventions will only retain the high public transit share in the city and region.