Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trams of Bombay




In the still of the night of 31st March, 1964 there was a big uproar in the streets and I remember my dad saying "Oh that must be the last tram" I did not get it then, till I saw the papers the next day splashed with photographs of merry makers enjoying the free ride on the last tram in Bombay.
An end of an era. Trams were so convenient (and affordable) The fare from Byculla to Regal theatre (Colaba) was 10 paise. The city fathers ensured that the fares were kept real low so that all could afford it.
The average speed being something like 8 kmph it was easy to board a tram. The best thing that impressed me was the seats. It was a simple arrangement in which the seats were wooden with two slots at the ends. The back rest was supported by two bars which passed through these slots. When the tram reached its destination and started its return journey, these back rests are simply flipped to the other side. Thus at any given time the passengers were always facing the front (in the direction of motion). A simple but ingenious idea. The photograph gives an idea how it works though its not a seat from the Bombay tram. The other two pictures show the single Decker and the double Decker trams that plied in Bombay.
The present BEST was originally “The Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways” which came into existence in 1905.


Later came the trolley bus which also ran on electricity but on tyres.(see this link for photograph) This mode of transport did not last long as the pantographs got dislodged whenever the bus moved to the sides. (went off the road in 1974)
So now it’s the BEST buses that rule Bombay.
A special mention should be made about the staff of the BEST. All said and done they are really efficient and well mannered when compared to the other bus services all over India. The ticket box too has a wet sponge, there by making it easy for the conductors to pull out single tickets. Now its an easy guess how other conductors wet their fingers for the same purpose. (click on the picture below)

BEST Driver

10 comments:

Samyukta said...

Thanks for the write up. A real recount from a bygone era.Really nice.

Haddock said...

Thanks Samyukta,
Hope to write some more from the "oldies" that was Bombay.

Gulmohar said...

You have given a clear pic about the age old trams..The pics are great too..:-)

workhard said...

Very vintage.....

really like the pics

Work from home India

Shanley Knox said...

thanks for your comment! interesting blog! love all of the culture you're introducing to others on here!

SloganMurugan said...

wow

Satish said...

Its simply great, took me 40 yrs down the line. I remember all that and as a child I very frequently travelled on these trams.

Satish Bangera

R.Sunder said...

Good effort at reviving old memories. A trip by Route No.5 from Kings Circle to Museum via Mohammedali Road used to take less than an hour. Trams used to trundle at 12 mph. No overcrowding, no jolts and jerks and a smooth ride all the way. Trams were available for the asking. Please post more photos of the double deckers.
R.Sunder

rama said...

Reminds me of my college days in Calcutta. Though luckily they have retained all the former modes of transportation even now, like the trams, double decker buses, mini buses, hand pulled rickshaws, and of course the metro. Even now the tickets in the tram are very cheap and the second class is more cheaper. I could write a whole blog about that city and its transport system.

Ash Nallawalla said...

I recall the trams vividly. They went along Thakurdwar Road near my home and were a nuisance for car traffic. Apart from the double decker trams, there were also tandem single-decker models but they took up twice as much space in length. The driver had a vertical crank handle to control the speed of the tram and there was a large electric bell ("ding ding" sound) used by the conductor.