Sea Linked Spasms

The Bandra-Worli sea-link has now become a regular fixture on my commute to work and back. Hence, my attention is drawn to any new development affecting traffic on that short stretch (such as the recent drive by traffic cops to discourage speeding).
But, somewhere in all the hysteria surrounding the two recent and rather tragic accidents that prompted the recent drive, commentators have forgotten to ask two basic questions. Here they are:
1. Why does the sea-link, despite the huge cost and time over-runs, still have only four lanes open to two-way traffic, against the eight lanes planned earlier? The bridge (because that’s what it actually is) was originally supposed to be constructed at a total project cost of Rs 400 crore but has finally ended up costing Rs 1,800 crore, and the bill is still mounting. Plus, the original plans envisaged opening eight lanes to traffic, of which only four were opened to the public initially. The remaining four were supposed to come on stream in November, but still show no signs of nearing completion.
2. Who thought up the crazy toll structure on the link? You need to pay Rs 50 if you’re travelling one way only. This climbs to Rs 75 for a return journey. Fair enough. But, if you’re planning on buying a monthly pass, you have to shell out Rs 2,500. This one beats all logic. If we assume 26 working days in a month, at Rs 75 per day, the total bill should not exceed Rs 1,950. Even if they decide to charge for all 30 days, the total works out to Rs 2,250. So, why Rs 2,500? Somebody tells me that the bureaucrats, who finalized this rate, wanted to take into account the possibility of somebody making multiple journeys across the link on the same day!!
Typically, the toll structure is the highest for a single journey, with concessions built into the return journey and the monthly pass being issued at a deep discount. The idea is to lure traffic – and committed upfront revenues — to the facility. But, the toll structure proposed on the Bandra-Worli Sealink might make it difficult for the concessionaires to achieve their targeted IRR.

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One thought on “Sea Linked Spasms

  1. Like the Planning Commission, every Indian government dept suffers from extreme short sight. Like our Blore and Hyd airports. Inability to look at the future. Remember the Planning Comm document of 2001, which assumed low tele density (being government babus with no official mobile phones then, I guess) totally ignoring the mobile phone.
    As regards the cost escalation, guess some one became very rich. The monthly tariff is for those people who have multiple daily use, I guess.

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