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Created on Jul 16, 1995. Last modified Jul 21, 1997.

History of Urban Transport


In 1849 the Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) Railway Company was incorporated by an Act of the British Parliament along with the East Indian Railway Company. The GIP Railway laid the tracks for the first railroad in India, that between Thane and Bombay. On April 16, 1853, the 21 mile long railroad was inaugurated. The first trains had extremely uncomfortable third class coaches. There were no seats, and the windows could be reached only by rather tall people. These coaches were called, quite appropriately, bakra gadi.

In 1855 the Bombay Baroda and Central Indian Railway Company was incorporated and undertook to build a line from Surat to Bombay. Work commenced in the same year, and was completed in 1864. In 1863 a railway line to the Deccan over the Bhor Ghat was inaugurated by Sir Bartle Frere.

BB&CI started the first suburban line, between Virar and a station in Bombay Backbay, in the year 1867. In the beginning there was only one train each way every day, but the number of trains began to increase from the 1870's. In 1872 the line was extended to Arthur Bunder in Colaba.

The Harbour line of the GPI was started in February 1925. About the same time, electrification of the suburban railways began.

Road Transport

Tramways were proposed as early as 1864, but a contract for their construction was given to Stearns and Kitteredge only in 1873. They were to run the lines for 21 years. The first trams, between Parel and Colaba, were drawn by teams of six to eight horses. When the tramways started in 1874, Stearnes and Kitteredge had a stable of 900 horses.

The first car was imported into Bombay in 1897 or '98 by a Mr. Forster of Greaves Cotton and Company. Jamsetji Tata was the first Indian in Bombay to own a car when he bought one in 1901. In 1905 a law was passed that made it necessary for every car to be registered. Motorised taxis were introduced in Bombay in 1911. The first motor bus route started on July 15, 1926, and ran between Afghan Church and Crawford Market.