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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The roads are getting worse, traffic is as bad as it’s always been and the idea of a peaceful road trip is but a dream. Jagruti Verma takes a look at the uncomfortable travel that the pregnant, disabled and ailing have to face in Mumbai

Earlier this month, a woman delivered a baby on a local train in Mumbai. She was moved quickly enough to a hospital, and mother and infant are now hale and hearty. It didn’t take long for the story to go viral on social media, which is something of a testament to Mumbai’s goodwill and spirit. In fact, the train halted at Dadar station for about half an hour at 10pm! But, why was a pregnant woman, approaching her delivery date, travelling by local train to begin with, instead of using other, safer modes of transport? As it turns out, most people, irrespective of whether they have physical ailments or not, have to hop on to trains, buses and deal with bumpy rickshaw rides during their daily commute. This is mainly because people find it difficult to pick more expensive modes of transport, even though they offer benefits such as improved safety. Whether you have physical conditions that make travelling in the city difficult or simply want to protect your spine, here’s what you can do to make your commute a little better.

The holes in our system
Potholes are Mumbai’s ever-present nuisance — even though children may enjoy playing in puddles that form in them. We just can’t seem to rid our roads of them, whether it’s because of shoddy work by irresponsible contractors or heavy traffic that ruins newly paved roads too quickly. However, travelling on pothole-riddled roads can be detrimental to your health. And, while you may get accustomed to the aches and pains you’ve gotten in your neck and back from bumpy travel, this will only get worse with time. It can also lead to larger health issues in the long run.

Paper arguments
“Not everyone can afford to own a vehicle or travel by cab every day. After all, given a choice, most woman would prefer a safer, less crowded means of transport.” says Dr. Vandana Gawdi, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Fortis Hospital, Vashi. Buses and trains are usually far too crowded at peak hours to be comfortable, even if you’re fit and healthy, and have no physical ailments. “However, this is often not something you have a choice about,” Dr. Vandana adds. There are several issues with public transport, and they all get worse for women who have to continue to work right up to the later stages of their pregnancy and travel significant distances to get to and from their offices.


When you sit in a train, bus, auto rickshaw or even a car, you must ensure that you sit straight, especially if you are travelling for several hours through the day. And, while you don’t have much of a choice in other modes of transport, you should try to stand in local trains unless you are very tired. Sitting for too long isn’t good for your spine, so make sure you have enough wiggle-room and that you take a break occasionally if you’re travelling for long. Carry a cushion if you must to ensure good lumbar support. Most importantly, try to stretch your legs, neck and arms at every opportunity.

If you’re taking public transport and travelling alone, especially during the later stages of your pregnancy, here are a few things Dr. Vandana thinks you should be aware of.

  • It’s alright to miss a train or your stop instead of getting pushed in or out.
  • Carry biscuit packets, fruit and water with you at all times.
  • Don’t carry bulky or heavy bags.
  • Look for less crowded modes of transport that will help you get to places quicker, even if they’re more expensive. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.


Here’s what you can do to reduce your daily expenses without giving up on comfort.

  • Pick shared cabs, an online aggregate share cab option or car pooling. Besides being cheaper, it will make your travel more eco-friendly.
  • Choose longer passes. Get a three-month first class pass rather than buying tickets online or getting a monthly pass. The longer the duration, the cheaper the pass will be.


Even if you travel by local train every day and can’t afford any other mode of transport, a few simple changes can make the commute slightly more comfortable. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Leave early so you can board an emptier train instead of rushing into a crowded one at peak hours.
  • Try to board trains from starting stations. This way, there’s a better chance of getting a seat.
  • Book your tickets online or with an ATVM card. This will save time and eliminate the need to stand in long lines.
  • Take slow trains instead of fast ones when you are not in a hurry. They are comparatively less crowded, sometimes even during peak hours!
  • If timings permit, try travelling in the afternoon or a little later at night (women should be careful here) because the crowd tends to thin out at these times.
  • Don’t carry much luggage. Pack only what is essential.



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