There really is no way to sugar coat it: Bengaluru traffic is a nightmare!
Most people spend several hours of the day being STUCK IN TRAFFIC, and the city regularly figures on the top of “worst traffic in the world” lists in the media. “Let’s just walk then!” you say? Naaaahhh, well this is not what most of us would consider “a walking city” and while there are still a few places to go to get your LISS cardio in (Cubbon Park, Phoenix Market City, inside your compound, etc.) going on foot from place to place isn’t very practical. Pollution, a lot of noise, a few cows, goats and dogs, holes in the sidewalks, low hanging wires, trash on the road, complete lack of crosswalks and stop lights… welcome to Bengaluru traffic!
SO HOW CAN YOU GET AROUND?
1. PRIVATE CAR
For many, especially in the ex-pat community, this is the obvious answer. A good car with an experienced driver will safely navigate you through the circus that is the traffic here – leaving you free to listen to your favourite podcast, or takes some snaps of the passing cows! This is usually organised in one of the following ways:
• Many of the companies where the ex-pats work will provide a car and driver as part of the contract.
• Hire a driver, and the driver will have his own car
• Buy a car, and hire a driver (either directly or through an agency).
• Buy a car, and drive yourself. For those of you planning to venture out on your own, be sure to have a license that is valid in India, and remember that here we drive on the left side of the road!
2. UBER/OLA CABS
These are a great option if you’re not planning to get your own car here. Uber and Ola are widely available here although, as everywhere, they can be a bit tricky to get a hold of during rush hours! You are also able to pre-book for a certain time if you know when you are leaving. If you’re a woman, as a safety precaution we advise that you do not take an Ola or Uber alone at night time.
VINE TIP: Once you have placed an order via the app, be sure to call the driver to “confirm” that you are really waiting for him or he may just stay where he is until you do.
The characteristically yellow and green autos (or rickshaws/tuk tuks as they are known in other parts of Asia) are everywhere here! For the shorter trips around your neighbourhood, this is a fun option! Small and fast – you really feel that you are in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Remember to always agree upon a price before getting in – don’t expect drivers to use the meters here. You can also order an auto via the Ola/Uber apps!
VINE TIP: When negotiating on the price before the ride, be sure to give a more local (read non-expat) point of reference, i.e. instead of telling the driver you are going to the Leela Palace choose a point nearby (on the same side of street) instead
This is not for the faint of heart – but if two-wheelers are your passion and you know what you are doing – go for it! You’ll find motorbikes and scooters in every shape and color here at a fraction of the price than you would in Europe, and it is for sure the most popular amongst the locals! Be sure to wear a helmet, and to have a valid license.
As for regular bicycles, this is not an option we recommend here, unless you are only riding it within your compound. With the heat, dangerous traffic, dust, and poor-quality roads, bicycling is better left as a recreational countryside activity on the weekends.
VINE TIP: While this may not be your main mode of transport, a Vespa or motorcycle (Royal Enfield, KTM, etc.) is a popular souvenir for many expats to bring home/to their next home with them. Depending on the country you are moving to next, you must have owned the bike for a certain period of time.
The traffic can be heavy going to and from the airport, so if you’re short on time, but have plenty of cash, why not try the new helicopter service? The company Helitaxii claims that they can get you from the airport to Electronic City in just 15 minutes compared to the two hours it would take on the road! Seats are Rs. 4,130 inclusive of GST each. They plan to start a route from HAL in the near future and also offer private charters!
Given the time it takes to get around by car here, Bengaluru’s metro is absolutely becoming a valid option, depending on where you live and where you want to go! The metro’s current radius is limited at the moment, but the construction connecting to other parts of town is already underway. Tickets are available in the station, and fares will depend on your destination (usually it will cost you between 20 to 40 Rupees). Be aware that the metro can be very crowded, and – if you are a woman – we recommend that you use the “ladies only” carts during peak hours to avoid any unwanted attention. We do not recommend using the metro after dark.
See the Namma Metro website for maps and fares.
Photo by Fancycrave