In the still of the night of 31st March, 1964 there was a big uproar in the streets and I remember my dad saying "Oh that must be the last tram" I did not get it then, till I saw the papers the next day splashed with photographs of merry makers enjoying the free ride on the last tram in Bombay.
An end of an era. Trams were so convenient (and affordable) The fare from Byculla to Regal theatre (Colaba) was 10 paise. The city fathers ensured that the fares were kept real low so that all could afford it.
The average speed being something like 8 kmph it was easy to board a tram. The best thing that impressed me was the seats. It was a simple arrangement in which the seats were wooden with two slots at the ends. The back rest was supported by two bars which passed through these slots. When the tram reached its destination and started its return journey, these back rests are simply flipped to the other side. Thus at any given time the passengers were always facing the front (in the direction of motion). A simple but ingenious idea. The photograph gives an idea how it works though its not a seat from the Bombay tram. The other two pictures show the single Decker and the double Decker trams that plied in Bombay.
The present BEST was originally “The Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways” which came into existence in 1905.
Later came the trolley bus which also ran on electricity but on tyres.(see this link for photograph) This mode of transport did not last long as the pantographs got dislodged whenever the bus moved to the sides. (went off the road in 1974)
So now it’s the BEST buses that rule Bombay.
A special mention should be made about the staff of the BEST. All said and done they are really efficient and well mannered when compared to the other bus services all over India. The ticket box too has a wet sponge, there by making it easy for the conductors to pull out single tickets. Now its an easy guess how other conductors wet their fingers for the same purpose. (click on the picture below)