The green grass on the bus stop roof is by no means India’s initiative against global warming. Its probably an unintentional outcome of possible negligence by maintenance unit of BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking) bus services responsible for running public transport in Mumbai. The growing wild grass also affirms that this year Mumbai recorded high rainfall along with many other parts of the country. The little mint green door gives an artistic look to an onlooker and from a distance the elements appear as a single unit. This is one of the few old bus stops which have survived the test of times and are operational in Ballard Estate, a business district near the Fort area. Motorised bus services started in 1926 with the first bus service running between Afghan Church and Crawford market. Ever since, this means of conveyance managed to firmly establish its foothold in the city.

The iconic bus shelters built during post British era followed a standard design to form an identity for commuters. Cement sheets are placed on iron rod frames colored with red paint. A concrete slab in front with walking passage in between. The design encourages commuters to form a line during rush hours – enter from left and exit from right to board the bus on its arrival. However, it does not support seating and commuters rest their lower bottom on the horizontal bar as shown in the picture below. A wooden board in front displays the location mentioned in Hindi language. The bus numbers are printed on the left side and visible from the footpath. Four bus services operate in Ballard Estate – 3, 66, 108, 122 and mostly cover routes of south Mumbai. The services are closed on Sundays.

These old style bus stops nicely compliment the heritage architecture of the area. But unfortunately they are no longer found in other parts of the city and the ones that existed are replaced with chrome finish metal frame structures. The new design is bulkier with narrow bench style seating and illuminated with sign boards. Every bus stop is a revenue generating opportunity for BEST through advertisements.

I was aimlessly wandering on my bicycle on a Sunday evening in Fort area and taking photographs.

The smallest bus shelter I have seen. The two boys were relaxing as Ballard Estate area is peaceful with offices shut on Sundays.
This stop certainly received a fresh coat of cherry red paint as I could smell.
Outside Custom House, the longest compared to other counterparts. Precisely, it has six vertical iron rods and forms five square boxes.
Outside Port House, side view.
Outside Port House, front view.
A Modern bus shelter located at a high street area promoting credit card usage.
Another advertisement – Spartan Poker, an online gaming website.
I had tagged the official twitter handle of BEST Bus Transport and they took action by removing the grass and sent me this picture.

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai


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