Public transport in India

Buses, rickshaws and trams

Public transport in India

Public transport still remains the primary mode of transport for most of the population.

India's public transport systems are among the most heavily used in the world. the automobile industry in India  is rapidly growing with an annual production of over 4.6 million vehicles, and vehicle volume is expected to rise greatly in the future so if you want enjoy travelling in India with local people and seeing each corner of a city without worrying about your rented car then you might want to consider using public transport, which includes:

  • Cycle rickshaw
  • Tram
  • Auto rickshaw
  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Local train
  • Metro

Cycle rickshaw

Cycle rickshaw were introduced in India in the 1940s. They are bigger than a tricycle where two people sit on an elevated seat at the back and a person pedals from the front. It has been a feature of Delhi streets since Indian independence in 1947, providing the cheapest way around the capital.


The advent of British colonialism saw trams being introduced in many cities including Mumbai and Kolkata. They are still in use in Kolkata and provide an emission-free means of transport.

Auto rickshaw

An auto rickshaw is a three wheeler vehicle for hire that has no doors and is generally characterized by a small cabin for the driver in the front and a seat for passengers in the rear. In Mumbai and other metropolitan cities, auto rickshaws have regulated metered fares. A recent law prohibits auto rickshaw drivers from charging more than the specified fare, or charging night-fare before midnight, and also prohibits the driver from refusing to go to a particular location.

Mumbai and Kolkata are also the only two cities which prohibit auto rickshaws from entering a certain part of the city, these being south Mumbai and certain parts of downtown Kolkata.

However in cities like Chennai, it is common to see autorickshaw drivers demand more than the specified fare and refuse to use the fare meter.
Airports and railways stations at many cities such as Chennai, Bangalore and Mysore provide a facility of prepaid auto booths, where the passengers pay a fixed fare as set by the authorities for various locations.


Depending on the city/state, taxis can either be hailed or hired from taxi stands. In cities such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad, taxis need to be hired over the phone. Whereas in cities like Kolkata and Mumbai, taxis can be hailed on the street.

According to government  regulations, all taxis are required to have a fare-meter installed. There are additional surcharges for luggage, late night rides and toll taxes are to be paid by the passenger. Since 2006, radio taxis have become increasingly popular with public due to reasons of safety and convenience.

In cities and localities where taxis are expensive or do not follow the government or municipal regulated fares, people use shared taxis. These are normal taxis which carry one or more passengers travelling to destinations either on route to the final destination or near the final destination. The passengers are charged according to the number of people with different destinations.


Buses make up over 90% of public transport in Indian cities and serve as a cheap and convenient mode of transport for all classes of society. Services are mostly run by state government owned transport corporations. However after the economic liberalisation, many state transport corporations have introduced various facilities like low-floor buses for the disabled and air conditioned buses to attract private car owners to help decongest roads.


The present suburban railway services in India are limited and are operational only in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi. The Mumbai suburban railway was the first rail system in India and began services in Mumbai in 1867 It transports 6.3 million passengers daily and has the highest passenger density in the world.

The regional rail network plays a major role in the public transport system of many of India's major cities. Suburban rail in India operates on lines shared with other passengers and freight trains or a combination of dedicated suburban lines and lines for long distance trains. Besides the suburban train, METRO has also been introduced for fast commuting around the city.

Further reading

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