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Getting Around in Mumbai

Getting Around in Mumbai

Taxis
This is the most comfortable way to travel. The black and yellow cabs can be flagged down at any street corner and the cabbies are usually quite friendly and affable, although they do turn up their noses at shorter rides. Fares are paid strictly by the meter or rather in multiples of the meter reading (This is because fares are frequently revised while the meters have not been updated.)
 
  A tip for the driver is optional but generally not expected. If you are one of those who wilt in the muggy Mumbai heat or need to keep your hair in place for a business appointment, opt for the blue 'Cool Cabs'; they are air-conditioned, and far more comfortable, although you end up paying almost double the fare for the luxury.
 
  Recently, brand new air-conditioned taxi service has been started in the city by V-Link Taxis Pvt. Ltd. under the brand name "Meru Cabs". Their taxis are a class apart and can be booked by a phonecall to 4422-4422.
 
 
Auto Rickshaws
The suburbs also have auto rickshaws, little black and yellow buggies that zip through the traffic like busy beetles. The rides can be hair-raising, but the drivers are pretty skilled. Rickshaws are cheap and cost about half the taxi fare; however they don?t ply beyond the nearest suburb, which is Bandra. If you're new to the city its best to check both taxi and rickshaw rates on the driver's Tariff Card.
 
 
Buses
Mumbai?s bus service, run by the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Company (BEST) is one of the best in the world. The BEST network is exhaustive and links virtually every point in the city to any other. (Booklets on the various routes are available at many book stores and railway stations). The buses, especially the stately double-deckers look like slightly run-down cousins of London?s original omnibus, but they are cheap and safe. Avoid the office rush hours (9 am to 11 am and 5pm to 7 pm) if you can, unless you?re something of a sumo wrestler. Incidentally, outside office hours, the top of a double-decker provides an intimate view of the metropolis and is a great way to explore the city.
 
 
Local Trains
For suburban bound traffic, Mumbai has two excellent lines that serve the eastern and western suburbs. They are literally the city's lifelines: everyday, over half a million commuters from Mumbai's far-flung suburbs make their way to downtown offices to earn their living. Trains on both lines run every couple of minutes round the clock (except during the graveyard shift from 00.50 am to 04.00 am) and they offer both first and second-class travel. Fast (F) trains stop only at nodal stations while Slow (S) ones will halt everywhere. First class tickets cost up to four times the ordinary fare, and generally, red-and-yellow striped pillars at stations indicate first class carriages.
 
  In second class the commute is quite a grueling experience, especially during peak hour traffic. Be prepared to feel like a sardine in a tin box, but if you are in a hurry, this is quite the fastest way to travel. Also, remember that all trains have a ladies' compartment, exclusively reserved for women. These are normally less crowded and spare the fair sex from a fair amount of eve teasing, which, unfortunately, is something of a local sport in this city. But don't despair. At its best, the Bombay suburban train is India in microcosm: crowded but friendly and packed with the ethnic diversity of the entire subcontinent.