Is Mumbai traffic really linear?
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For decades, whenever someone talks about mobility within Mumbai, many quote Mumbai is a linear city – where traffic moves in straight lines – assuming everyone goes to South Mumbai.  This WAS true.  But no more. RoadStar indicates the traffic movement within Mumbai is as complex as noodles.

Despite three primary local railway lines moving people in and out of the city, we have all witnessed an unprecedented increase in volume of road traffic across the city in the last few years.   Besides, the central and western railway too had reported – the number of commuters using local trains are yet to reach pre-covid levels.    I believe three specific reasons contribute to this increase in traffic.

  • The changing mindset of the new generation – in avoiding feeder trains and using their own private vehicles for commute providing additional independence.
  • Increase in consumer purchase power – leading to more people buying in two and four wheelers.
  • Post covid behavior – seeking privacy during commute – aided by the availability of own vehicle and purchase power for fuel.

With more traffic on the street across every nook and cranny of the city and railways claiming lesser commuters, the question whether Mumbai is still linear remains valid or is it as good or bad as a New Delhi or Hyderabad? 

Answers to this question has implications on both media as well as town planning.


Using RoadStar – the audience measurement platform for OOH Media in India, we tried to understand the ground realities with 1 objective in mind. 

  • Where do people go?

The methodology we used is as follows:

  • Split the city into specific geographic clusters.
  • Identify individuals who live within the clusters.
  • Monitor their travel patterns from one cluster to another.

The following are the geographic clusters that we drew.   The map below represents a simple schematic of geographic spread of Mumbai city.

Geographic Clusters : Mumbai

Except for locations such as Gorai, Dongri or Madh, we tracked all the trips taken by people residing in each one of the geographic clusters to understand which other clusters they are travelling to.

We then indexed it over the total trips we have in the cluster.  

How does indexing work?

Indexing helps us in getting a clear perspective by normalizing the population in each cluster to 100.  This provides the  ‘chances’ or ‘probability’ of someone residing in one part of the city travelling to another part.  For example, 

1DETAILSIN MUMBAI*Colaba MahimMira Bhayandar
2Total trips tracked3,60,35,35574,98,2404,14,672
3Trips to Powai Borivali Cluster58,86,4348,33,4143,96,989
4Proportion of trips to Powai Borivali Cluster16%11%96%

In the table above, the index values indicate those who live in Mira Bhayander cluster are 5 times more likely to take a trip to Powai – Borivali cluster as compared to those who live in Colaba Mahim cluster.  This is despite more than double the number of actual trips taken from Colaba Mahim cluster to Powai Borivali cluster.

This is just an example, and one may argue, that Mira Bhayander is adjacent to Powai Borivali Cluster and hence the chances of them crossing that sector is high.  Which is also right.  However, when one reads this data in comparison with other clusters, this becomes interesting.  For example, Bandra Andheri, which lies between Colaba-Mahim and Powai-Borivali clusters – does not have this type of mobility.  

People travel to different parts of the city for various reasons.  It could be for work, study, shopping or something else.  From the table above, it is clear, those who live in Mumbai City are less likely to travel out to suburbs while those who live in suburbs not only travel the most but also travel to different geographical clusters within the city and not only to Mumbai.

Our verdict: For those living in SoBo – traffic is linear. For others it is not.

RoadStar: is a media planning and reporting platform for OOH media in India. RoadStar is approved by IOAA (Indian Outdoor Advertising Association) and validated by World Out Of Home for the rigour in its methodology.  RoadStar reports 27,000 OOH media sites, 472,000 POI points and more than 650 markets in India.

Published On: March 14th, 2023 / Categories: Footfall Analytics, OOH Planning / Tags: /
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