Residents of Mumbai are gearing up for the long weekend beginning with the Dussehra holiday on Friday till Eid-e-Milad on Tuesday. Friday will see a big surge in outstation travel with trains and buses packed with holidaymakers and private tourist vehicles booked up as well.
Trains going to Goa from Mumbai were almost fully reserved for Friday and Saturday.
“Considering the festive season, we have already restored many special services that were running pre-Covid for the convenience of the passengers,” said Shivaji Sutar, Central Railway CPRO.
Packed trains and buses may see violations of social distancing norms, even though all transporters maintain they are taking precautions.
Maharashtra State Transport Department Corporation(MSRTC) buses, which earlier had daily average passengers of 24 lakh approximately, have seen an increase to 28 lakh on Thursday and the number is likely to rise over the weekend.
“In the Navratri season, pilgrimage tourism increases and it’s likely to increase more during the weekend,” said an MSRTC official. He said Covid-appropriate behavior was being followed in the buses.
Harsh Kotak, a private tourist bus operator, said, “Though our business of school buses has totally gone for a toss because of Covid, we are really happy that this weekend we have almost covered 70 per cent of our pre-Covid business. The bookings are full as most of the people from Mumbai and MMR are planning to head to a weekend getaway. Apart from nearby tourist destinations like Matheran, Alibaug, Lonavala, Khandala and Mahabaleshwar, Goa is a hotspot for this weekend.”
Hotels, guest houses and villas in Alibag, Matheran and Lonavala are mostly sold out for the weekend and tariffs are high for the remaining rooms.
Vinayak Gawade, who owns Swamichaya Resort and Shivprasad Cottage in Alibaug, said there has been advance booking for the weekend and the beaches have already become crowded.
“We are following Covid norms and keeping the premises sanitised,” Gawade said.
The Mumbai-Pune expressway, the Mumbai-Nashik highway and the Mumbai-Konkan routes are likely to become congested on Friday with many people travelling to holiday destinations in their private vehicles.