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dna special: It's 50 years since the last tram chugged along on Mumbai streets

Friday, 21 March 2014 - 8:50am IST | Agency: dna

At 10pm on March 31, 1964 a tram travelled for the last time on Mumbai streets, between Bori Bunder (now CST) and Dadar (formerly Khodadad tram terminus, Dadar). And this 31st, it will be 50 years since that mode of transportation came to an end in the city.

Incidentally, the last time any news of trams surfaced in Mumbai was in May 2009. Tram tracks were discovered during the demolition of the Lalbaug flyover and construction of the Lalbaug-Bharatmata flyover.

These tracks were perhaps the very same ones on which the last tram plied.

Since 1964 Mumbai hasn't witnessed successful introduction of any new mode of transportation system. Suburban trains and motorised buses were there then too. They however, have been upgraded with improvement in technology.

For a brief period in 1992 and 1996 Mumbai saw water transport being introduced—between Girgaum Chawpatty and Juhu Beach; and Gateway of India and Navi Mumbai. But somehow they didn't click as expected.

Fifty years after the last tram chugged along Mumbai streets, two new transportation systems–monorail and metro rail—have come to wow Mumbaikars. Monorail, the first of its kind in the country, is already plying, between Wadala depot and Chembur, and the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro rail is likely to be opened to public next month.

As per the records available with Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), trams catered to the public for 90 long years.

In the book 'The BEST Story' by SN Pendsay, it is stated: "The last of them, packed to capacity, left Bori Bunder for Dadar at ten that night. Crowds lined the route all the way at that late hour to bid farewell to the much-loved, if old-fashioned, transport of the common man. It was a sad farewell."

Over the years, BEST buses have ensured that people in the city reach their destinations. BEST launched its motorised bus service on July 15, 1926, much before trams had become history in Mumbai, with a fleet of 24 vehicles.

"The Bombay Tramway Company started horse-pulled tram service on May 9, 1874 on two routes—Colaba to Pydhonie via Crawford Market, and Bori Bunder to Pydhonie," said AS Tamboli, spokesperson of BEST. On May 7, 1907, electric trams were introduced.

In India, only Kolkata has trams now being used to transport commuters. It's Asia's oldest electric tram service and was introduced in 1902. That city now has air-conditioned trams equipped with television and FM radio, and they were inducted to promote tourism. Buying a ticket on this ensures a flow of snacks. These trams help tourists get a taste of Kolkata's heritage. In Mumbai, hoever, trams are heritage.

First tram service (horse-pulled): May 9, 1874
First electric tram: May 7, 1907
First public bus service: July 15, 1926
Last tram service in Mumbai: March 31, 1964

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