Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the long-awaited water taxi service from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai during his visit here in the first week of January, official sources said.
The PM will also inaugurate a chemical terminal at the Mumbai Port Trust that has been operational since October, and perform the ground-breaking ceremony for another chemical terminal at the port.
The water taxi, which will cut commute time between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, was first planned three decades ago. It was taken up seriously over the last few years as part of the Centre’s inland waterways initiative.
One central and two state agencies — the Mumbai Port Trust, Maharashtra Maritime Board and CIDCO — worked in tandem on the project.
MbPT constructed the Domestic Cruise Terminal at Ferry Wharf in Mumbai, and CIDCO is giving finishing touches to the terminals at Belapur and Nerul in Navi Mumbai.
The water taxi will transport commuters between Mumbai and the two Navi Mumbai jetties, which will include a stop at JNPT. Another service will go between Mumbai and Rewas in Raigad district. However, the fare is not for the daily commuter.
The service has been handed over to private operators. The fare will be roughly calculated at Rs 45 per minute per passenger. The fare from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai is expected to be between Rs 1,200 and 1,500 per passenger, while the fare to JNPT is likely to be Rs 750, said Sohel Kazani of Infinity Harbour Services LLP, one of the operators.
The company plans to operate from 8 am to 8 pm for 330 days in a year. The service will be suspended during the monsoon. “At present, we have four vessels including one 50-seater, a 40-seater, a 32-seater and a 14-seater. Each can travel at a speed up to 25 knots. The government has allotted us routes including International Cruise Terminal to Elephanta, Domestic Cruise Terminal to Rewas, Karanjade, Dharamtar, Domestic Cruise Terminal to Belapur, Nerul, Vashi and Airoli and DCT to Khanderi islands and JNPT,” Kazani said. Jetties are yet to be built at Vashi and Airoli.
“Our boats will take less than 30 minutes from DCT to Navi Mumbai, whereas by taxi it takes between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes,” said Kazani.
For last mile connectivity for the commuter, Kazani said there would be pool cabs at various places like Churchgate, CST, Nariman Point, Gateway of India, DCT, Dockyard, Belapur, Nerul and JNPT. They would charge a nominal fare of Rs 20 to 30 per passenger on a share-a-cab basis. Tickets are to be booked online on watertaximumbai.com and seats will have to be booked a day in advance.
The metropolis earlier had a hovercraft service connecting Gateway of India with Navi Mumbai and Girgaum Chowpatty with Juhu.
Aashim Mongia of West Coast Marine, who has also got a licence to operate the service, said, “We have got three routes DCT to Kanhoji Angre Islands, DCT to Rewas Karanja and DCT to JNPT, Nerul and Belapur. We have three vessels and can carry 12 to 20 persons. For the Mumbai JNPT, we will charge Rs 800 per person and it will take up to 20 minutes from DCT and for Mumbai Belapur, we will charge Rs 1,100 per passenger and it will take 35 minutes. We have applied for a licence to ply on the DCT Nerul route. The journey will take 30 minutes and we will charge Rs 1,000 per passenger.” A senior MbPT officer said that another operator has a catamaran but will join the service three months later.