<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2015, Justice Naresh Patil of the Bombay High Court made a suggestion to the state government to change office timings, questioning whether the fixed routine of 9 am to 5 pm could be done away with.”What if some departments begin work at 11 am? Can some offices work on weekdays and take the weekends off? For instance, Dadar market is closed on Mondays — can similar options be worked out?” He had suggested, adding, “Will an integrated study of the situation by the state, Railways, police and other partners, like the private sector, help ease overcrowding in the city?”The court further directed the government to consider if changing the timings of office, college and school-goers, would divide the rush during peak-hours. “Mumbai is an island city, there is no scope for further expansion thus the lesser evil has to be tackled. The traditional schedule needs to be revised — zone and area-wise working hours need to be adopted,” it had said.Following this, a committee of officials from various government departments was constituted — which is yet to release its report.A cross-section of Mumbaikars tells DNA whether this proposal would be as good on the ground as it is in theory.VOICESOffice timings for employed people in the city should be different or flexible to ease congestion. Work from home should be made compulsory twice a month or so for jobs and companies where such an option is feasible in terms of work. The option of flexible timings will not only help in decongesting the local trains but roads in the city as well.—Shilpa Popat, WadalaChanging office timings of workplaces in the city to reduce peak time rush in local trains is the need of the hour. With the number of people travelling to work from the suburbs increasing every year, and the office-going crowd mostly concentrated in south Mumbai areas, there seems to be no better solution than this to control the rush of daily commute.—Rajendra Patil, BadlapurThe concept of peak-hours no longer exists in Mumbai — every hour is peak-hour. The city is so populated that one is bound to find the local trains crowded throughout the day. If office timings are staggered, it may thin the crowds to an extent but won’t serve the purpose entirely. Most companies work in shifts and those timings vary depending on the company. What we need is trains on time, better infrastructure and a reduced waiting time between trains.—Swapnil Waghmare, KalyanYes, this will ease the burden on trains. It will make travelling easier as the peak-hour rush will be distributed in a more even manner. Existing college timings should be kept in mind as well. However, only a change in timings is not enough. Better facilities for dispersing of passengers outside stations is needed. Several hawkers and vehicles block station entry and exit points, and action must be taken against them.—Cassendra Nazareth, BorivliIt is about time we have staggered working hours. People will be more at ease and will reach their workplaces with a smile instead of the manner in which they reach office now. In fact, not just staggered timings but work from home should also be considered as an option. For offices that have a five-day week, there should be an option of work from home twice a week and offices that have a six-day week should have the option of working from home thrice a week.—Swati Kondapalli, AndheriInstead of asking offices to change their timings, the government should provide adequate infrastructure and make commute more comfortable for citizens. The shift in office hours will affect the revenue for both the government and the firms. It is high time that office goers stop having to compromise and cross hurdles daily in order to make a living. The government has to give some relief to taxpayers rather than asking people to adjust yet again.—Riya Rawat, ThaneOffice timings should be staggered particularly for women. Besides, varying timetables will help people across the city travel with ease. Instead of a fixed timing, employees should be asked to put in a certain number of work hours every day within which the work should be completed. If that does not happen, they should be asked to put in extra hours the following day. This will also ensure efficient working.—Mili Shetty, KandivliThe condition of railway stations across the city is pathetic and it gets particularly worse during peak office hours. Daily commuters in the city are repeatedly becoming the target of poorly maintained infrastructure as well as the apathy of railway officials. Not only do we have to pay our taxes but we also seem to have to beg for basic facilities due to us as citizens of the city. Owing to the negligence of railway authorities, some have to pay the price by losing their lives.—Somesh Chowdhary, AndheriEXPERT SPEAKImplementing a timetable that is spaced out over the day is ideal for Mumbai. It will ensure that the crowds in the city are better managed. The Railways and government authorities should work on a schedule that separates the time of commute for office goers from that of school-going children. It is quite a hassle for students to commute during peak hours in the city.—Vivek Sahai, former Chairman Railway Board, Railway MinistryThere is no doubt that if office timings are staggered, it will reduce crowding inside local trains. But this solution needs to be supplemented by an improvement in the city’s rail infrastructure, in order to cater to the rising number of commuters in the metropolitan city.—Dr Rita Savla, Radhee Foundation

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Speak up Mumbai: Finding a solution to the city’s rush-hour chaos