Why the Mumbai Local beats the New York Subway, London Tube

The Mumbai Local is an unstoppable force. Day after day, month after month, year after year, it helps Mumbaikars navigate with ease the ungodly traffic of the island city. Come terrorist attacks or floods, nothing seems capable of decelerating these moving oceans of human beings. No wonder then, it beats leading metro services of the world, like the New York Subway and the London Tube, hands down.

Here are nine reasons why these firangi trains arent even a patch on the good old Mumbai local.

Cheapest fares

Where else in the world can you travel 118-120 km for as little as Rs 30? (Thats less than half a dollar, by the way.) Mumbai might be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but when it comes to transport, weve figured it all out, havent we?

(Over)Capacity crowd

The Mumbai local carries a whopping 7.5 million commuters daily, which is five times the population of Estonia, 10 times the population of Bhutan and just shy of Switzerland. The Subway can beat those figures (in the next life).

Ladies Special

They didnt stop at the ladies coach. They launched an entire train for women, aka the Ladies Special from Churchgate. Amid all the mad rush, feminism doesnt have to take a hit!

4th Seat Syndrome

There is always a vacant seat, whether you can spot it or not. Arrey sarko nashift shift is the most oft-used line you hear on the local, which is followed by someone trying to fit themselves into a space thats not there. Your brain is hardwired to shift after a few days of travelling in the Local. Manspreading, whats that?

Shop till you drop (off the train?)

Space is no constraint for a salesman with drive. Right at the point when you are trying to breathe or put your foot in no-mans land (which isnt there) will come a salesman selling fruits/farsan/hair clips/mobile covers/jewellery/kurtas/sarees/home appliances and what have you. No need to go to the department store any more.

Hop in-Hop out

The Mumbaikar is always in a hurry even on national holidays. Waiting for the train is so clichd and eats up so much of your time. For a city where everyone is always late, that seems to be some real patient behaviour. Or are they trying to compensate for the bad traffic? Think of doing that on the Tube.

Live TV/Movie

Move over Game of Thrones. Once someone gets into an argument on the Local, it is usually a fight to the finish. Mainstream cuss words, imaginative expletives and a crowd thats spellbound. Tarantino, anyone? The only thing you miss is the popcorn.


How often do you see women chopping away vegetables in the local? From ladyfinger to gourds, its almost like MasterChef on a tight schedule. Knitting sweaters is passe!

First class (which is the same as second class)

Travelling in the Subway or the Tube will make you feel like a commoner, but hey, the Mumbai local has a special first class compartment with cushioned seats. Its another thing these compartments are also equally packed.

To hack an Einstein quote: There are only two big levellers in the world – life and the Mumbai Local. And Im not sure about the former.

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