Last week I happened to goto Marol in Andheri East for some work and while returning back I got a chance to travel in one of our Pride of Mumbai transport “Double-Decker” bus. I really could not recollect the last time I traveled in double-decker bus in Mumbai. Although the ride was not that good as the bus was fully crowded and the distance was too short but I cherish the wonderful little time spent in the bus which I had after a long long time. I always liked traveling in double-decker bus from my childhood.
My school was walking distance from my home and hence I hardly got any chance to travel in bus to school. But I still recollect that during my SSC (Board exams), my centre was far away from home and I had the option to travel by bus. And those days (way back 2 decades ago) there were many double-decker busses running on the roads of Mumbai. And luckily my exam centre was the last stop (Bus route no. 273). I use to get a seat on the upper deck and enjoy the nature and the breeze of Aamchi Mumbai. So for all the exams I got chance to travel by double-decker bus daily thru and fro from home.
Mumbai’s double-decker buses have crossed a milestone of running for 75 years in last June 2013. The double-decker, once the pride of the city, was first launched in Mumbai in 1937. Since then “Victoria Terminus” has become “Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus” and “Bombay” has become “Mumbai”. But the double-decker remains a symbol of the city. BEST which runs and maintains the buses have almost stopped running double-decker buses for various reasons; high cost per kilometre, slow speed, too much noisy, high maintenance (since it has 2 conductors) as compared to single decker bus. According to BEST official, the single-decker bus has 52 sitting capacity and 13 standing, while the double-decker bus has 78 sitting and 19 standing capacity.
Until late 90s there were many double-decker buses in service. I remember we all friends use to go to Juhu beach at Vile Parle in double-decker bus (route no. 203) and what a joy ride we all use to have. Climbing the spiral steps and getting on the upper deck and running to get the front seat was unique in bus. One feels you are on top of the world while traveling on the upper deck of the double-decker bus. Since older citizens found it difficult to climb the stairs of the moving vehicle, the upper deck was typically filled with children, students and young couples enjoying the cool breeze and ‘aerial’ view. I am still missing those good old days and of course the ride in double-decker bus. Whenever any of my relatives coming from other town, used to ride in the double-deckers and I too had a sense of pride that my city had something unique to offer. But today, I myself do not get to ride in these buses, where have they gone?
Can’t BEST come up with better option and start running more double-decker buses? Our next generation also can get a chance to enjoy the Pride ride.
My daughter has never understood my enthusiasm for these buses. But I’d like to enjoy my last few rides on an upper deck before they are gone forever.