Getting Around in Mumbai

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Queen's Necklace - Marine Drive

Queen's Necklace - Marine Drive

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Bombay (or Mumbai as it's now known) is a bustling metropolis. When you find yourself on the streets of Bombay, the first strong stimulus is the staggering number of people !  Population density is among the highest in the world and not surprisingly  space is at a premium.Traffic crawls in the direction of any place that matters in this city

The quickest way to get around the city is by its local trains.  Trains are the quickest yet the most inconvenient mode of travel, unless you're going in the "opposite" direction. Over the years, Bombay has become home to a shifting population - the commercial southern side takes the burden during the day whereas the suburbs follow suit in the evening after work hours.

Every one who is active and earning wants to go to "town side" (i.e. Churchgate/VT/Nariman Point) in the mornings for work, and returns to the suburbs (Andheri/Borivali/Thane/Vashi) after  work.  That's why the trains are packed in the "down" direction (i.e. going southwards) in the morning, and jammed with people in the "up" direction (i.e. northbound) in the evenings.  Office peak hours stretch from almost 8 am to 12 noon and from 5 pm to 9 pm.  But if you travel in the direction opposite to the office rush, you will find the trains empty ! To enter and travel in a crowded train you need to be agile and uncompromising to survive the onslaught of bestiality in humans

The other forms of transport available are the city's buses (often taking too long to get from point A to point B), taxi cabs (usually available in town, south of Bandra/Sion) and autorickshaws (akin to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok and only allowed to run in the suburbs). 

Taxis are expensive and often in horrible shape, many of them being more than 8 years old.  However, AC cabs have also been introduced some years ago, and these are better maintained and equipped with airconditioning, though more expensive.

As of 2009, your best bet would be to call a cab from one of the branded AC cab services launched in the last couple of years.  Cabs from Meru or Gold or Mega will do a point-to-point pick up and drop for a fee that's about 25% higher than normal cab fares.  For that princely premium, you get a well-maintained airconditioned cab and a relatively more educated and informed driver.

If cost is an issue but time is not, go for one of the few AC bus routes that will ferry you from one end of the city to another in airconditioned comfort.  The routes are few (including the swanky BRTS buses!), and very cheap.  But, an end to end trip can last 3 hours or more.

Driving in the city is not recommended as it can be a frustrating experience.  If you can afford it, hire an AC cab or a private taxi.  If not, make the most of the local trains.

You can also access some practical information on Getting Around here:

Contributed by Naveen Bachwani

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