Living in Mumbai?
Transportation in Mumbai
Public Transportation — The Blood Vessels of Mumbai
Considering the heavy congestion and the poor maintenance of Mumbai roads, it is not surprising that public transportation is often considered the best way of getting around the mega-city. Mumbai actually has a comparatively good public transportation system. However, with over 80% of the city’s commuters relying on it to get them to work and back every day, it certainly has its downsides as well.
Trains: The Suburban-, Mono-, and Metro Rails
There are three lines on the Mumbai Suburban Railway, the Western Line, the Central Main Line, and the Harbor Line. On all lines, trains run regularly between around 04:00 and 01:00, alternating between slow (S) and fast (F) trains, depending on the number of stations they stop at.
Various websites provide railway maps for Mumbai’s local train services, such as that of the Indian Railways. Every train has separate compartments for women, senior citizens, and passengers with disabilities, and once you’ve been on one of them you’ll know why.
Mumbai commuter trains carry several million passengers every day. They can get insanely crowded, with passengers standing in open doors, dangling out of windows, and even traveling on the roof, so sharp elbows and strong nerves are essential.
For expatriates who can afford it, traveling first class is the way to go, as compartments tend to be less cramped. Train tickets can be bought at station counters, but queues are very long. Train timetables and a fare calculator can be found at Mumbai Lifeline.
The Mumbai Monorail has completed its first phase which includes a line from the center of Mumbai headed towards the north. By the end of 2015 they hope to have finished the line heading to the south of the city. The Mumbai Metro currently has two lines spanning across the city.
Whether by Bus or by Taxi, Only the BEST in Mumbai
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking, BEST for short, operates a fleet of thousands of buses running on compressed natural gas. These busses run on hundreds of routes, serving most parts of the city. Monthly and quarterly bus-pass schemes were introduced in 2007. You can register for these on the BEST company website. Several dozen additional bus routes are supplied by Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport and the Thane Municipal Corporation.
Most expats, however, choose to travel by taxi. This is by far the most comfortable option, albeit not always the fastest, due to the sheer volume of traffic on the roads. There are the old black-and-yellow taxis (which are gradually being phased out) and private cabs, i.e. the newer, safer variety with air-conditioning. All modern taxis have meters. The current, correct fare tables can be downloaded as a smartphone application or as a simple file from various websites such as TaxiAutoFare.
The notorious auto rickshaws are restricted to suburban areas of Mumbai.
International and Domestic Flights
Mumbai is well connected to both other parts of India and the world. The city’s main airport, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, is one of South Asia’s busiest air traffic hubs. In 2013–2014 it transferred over 32.2 million passengers.
The international terminals are sometimes still referred to by the airport’s old name, Sahar. Domestic flights use the Santa Cruz terminals about four kilometers to the west. Terminal 2 has recently been refurbished and international flights are already taking off from there, but domestic flights will have to wait for the renovations to be completed. Fortunately, despite the great facilities, as of 2011 international passengers no longer have to pay the 600 INR fee for making use of the airport.
To get to and from the airport, you can take a regular, metered taxi or a prepaid taxi. The prepaid taxi has the benefit that you know what you will be paying, won’t have to pay more upon arrival, and you will be sure to get a receipt. Busses from the BEST transit company run between the airport and the city center. Trains do not reach the airport and a taxi or bus has to be taken to bridge this gap. As far as inter-city travel is concerned, trains are definitely the preferred option for long-distance journeys through India. Within the state of Maharashtra, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation operates a relatively comfortable and inexpensive inter-city coach service.
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