To cope with runaway gridlock, Mumbai is building out its rail infrastructure. The existing Mumbai Suburban Railway has an estimated 7.5m riders every day, making its trains the most overloaded in the world. To alleviate this strain, the city is building a metro system, slated to be completed by 2021. It will have a total of nine lines, with the first one alone having a projected capacity of 1.5m people.
The stakes are clearly high for India’s financial capital and commercial hub. Reducing congestion will increase the city’s attractiveness and ultimately lower the costs of doing business. “Congestion has a significant impact on our business,” said Variava. “You can’t expect to go to more than one or two locations per day. A lot of planning goes into where you have to go. You go to one area and that’s it.”
Shanghai and Beijing, two other megacities, face similar challenges. Geoffrey Gaillac, who works as a sales manager in the city for Deco System, a Hong Kong-based company that exports household products to Europe, has experienced first-hand the dizzy spiral of both congestion and pollution.
“It seems the traffic jams you get today in Shanghai just didn’t happen five years ago when I first moved here,” he said. The Frenchman uses an electric scooter to get around the city EMERGENCY PRODUCTS
“Beijing is a whole other ball game.” he continued. “Every time I go there for business, I use the metro if I can. I’ve taken taxis before, but the traffic jams make it pure hell. It really limits how much you can get done in one day.” The monthly economic cost of congestion in 2009 was just over 336 yuan ($54) per resident in Beijing and 266 yuan ($42) in Shanghai, according to China’s Horizon Research Consultancy Group 美容專科
To combat racing population growth and urbanisation, Shanghai and Beijing are expanding their rail infrastructure. They are also considering charging commuters fees in certain congested areas. “Officials throughout Asia are dealing with the problem, but it’s become a race against time,” said Sakamoto