Sunday, December 13, 2015

Down Memory Lane: Mumbai and its Tram Cars * 61

The Trams and the Raj

Mumbai is the financial capital o f India and is a thriving metropolis with suburban trains and efficient bus service and the coming metro train. But just about 47 years back Mumbai had an additional avenue to travel and that was the electric tram car.
The tram car was a gift of the British Raj who first built the tram way a hundred and twenty five years back. The first trams appeared on Mumbai roads in 1874. Before the advent of electric power the trams in Mumbai were drawn by horses. But with the advent of electric power the electric powered car on steel rails which were embedded in the road came into being. This was in 1907 and Mumbai followed London in this respect.The British also formed a company called BEST (Acronym for Bombay. Electric supply and transport)

In those days the trams ran right from Colaba to Sion with stops on the way at Dadar circle and Kings Circle. The trams also traversed the crowded areas of central Mumbai like Girgaum and they added a delight to the city. The trams moved slowly on the roads, but they were something unique and to top it there were also the double Decker trams that gave the traveler a panoramic view of the city as you travelled on the upper deck.

The trams continued in the city for close to a hundred years before the corporation decided to do away with them in the sixties of the last century. The feeling was these slow moving vehicles were not in consonance with fast moving traffic.
The decision to do away with trams was taken and over night the trams disappeared from the Bombay scene. But now a lot of planners do fee that doing away with the trams was a mistake as they were pollution free and gave color to the city. It is worth mentioning that the other great Indian city Calcutta has persisted with trams and they still rule the roost there. But in all other cities which had trams like Delhi, Nasik, Kanpur and Patna the tram has disappeared.

Travelling by tram in Mumbai was a great pleasure and if you had plenty of time you were witness to the city and its vast markets and teeming humanity. But all ages come to an end and the age of the tram also ended in Mumbai, but it will always be linked with the city and its development for all time to come.