Fulbright to India Guide – 2021-2022



Public Transportation

From modern metro systems in several cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru to old-fashioned rickshaws, transport in India is extremely varied and choices are overwhelming.

Using public transport in India is often challenging at first. It can be crowded and somewhat uncomfortable but if you can overcome the initial inhibition you will see that using buses and metros in India is cost effective, allows you to see more of the city and gives you insight into the local everyday life.


For local transportation, cabs are available in all cities and larger towns.  It’s a good idea to get the number of your local neighborhood taxi stand so that you can arrange for pick-ups from your doorstep. They usually have a flat rate of fixed hours of service and the kilometers covered.

Most taxis are metered.  Note that, due to frequent rate increases, you will be charged according to the kilometer reading on the meter and the amount posted on the Auto Fare Card, a government printed chart that drivers carry.  Tips are not expected.  For out of the way destinations, taxis may sometimes demand round-trip fare.  Prepaid taxis, managed by local authorities, are available at most Indian airports and major railway stations. 

Mobile app-based taxi services like Ola and Uber are very popular and very convenient. You need to download their apps on your smartphones and you have the option to pay in cash after the travel is completed.

Auto rickshaws, three-wheel motor vehicles, or “auto” as it is affectionately known is a cheap and efficient form of public transportation.  Their compact size allows them to weave in and out of traffic with ease while the passengers enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the city and the wind in their hair.  Autos are a fun option to get around the city quickly; however, they present some very dangerous concerns. Autos offer little protection in an accident.  Even small accidents can cause severe injuries.  Aside from collisions, these vehicles are also known to topple rather easily when off balance leaving its passengers face down on the pavement.

Always ask the drive to run the meter.  If the meter is not an option, negotiate the fare before you board the auto.  Get local advice on fare ranges to your destination.

Please read the section on road safety for more information.

Buses are dependable, cheap, and convenient but may not be comfortable if crowded.  Bus routes are now available online for some cities.  Most cities are connected with three types of interstate bus services: regular AC buses, deluxe buses, and air-conditioned (Volvo AC).  Book tickets in advance for air-conditioned/deluxe buses.

Metro lines/Subways are available in major cities and towns in India. The “metro” is an inexpensive and efficient way to travel.  Delhi Metro reserves the first compartment (coach) of every train for women, while a section in each compartment is reserved for women.  Both systems offer a Travel Card or Smart Card-based ticketing system option. To know about existing and under construction projects of metro systems in India, please see the The Metro Rail Guy (TMRG)

Trams are only available in Kolkata and they are managed by the government of West Bengal’s

Calcutta Tramways Company, Ltd.: http://www.calcuttatramways.com/


The Indian railway system is the longest in the world and one of the most used.  There are the ‘express’ or ‘mail’ trains for intercity transport, and ‘super-fast air conditioned’ trains connecting Delhi with state capitals and most major cities.  Several long trains are composed of two to three classes of travel, such as a 1st and 2nd classes that have different pricing systems for various amenities.

First class AC, 2-Tier AC and 3-Tier AC travel on Indian trains is comfortable.  The coach attendant provides pillows, blankets, bed sheets and towels.  On long-distance trains, meals are provided on board; on some special trains, the cost of the meal is included in the ticket cost.  Solo women travelers generally prefer Second Class 2-Tier AC (which have sleepers with curtains), over First Class compartments, which is a cubicle meant for four people. 

For details about train schedules, visit www.indianrail.gov.in and www.irctc.co.in. Note that these websites do not accept international cards for payment. But you can try other travel e-portals like makemytrip.com / cleartrip.com to buy train tickets.

Train tickets needs to be booked in advance and reservation usually starts opening up about 120 days prior to your travel date. There is tremendous rush for railway travel during festival period and you need to reserve your seats in advance.


If you need to between major destinations quickly, you will find that flying is most convenient. Flights between major cities and most midsize towns are scheduled daily.  Besides the government operated airline Air India, there are a number of privately operated airlines.

Air Indiahttp://airindia.com

Most travel e-portal sites (cleartrip.com, makemytrip.com) for air and railway booking accept international debit/credit cards. As suggested by couple of Fulbrighters – one should first set up an account on these sites and then do the payments. In case your payment is still being declined, try visiting the airlines website directly for the booking.

Makemytrip has an option at the very bottom of the payment options, which reads “other options.” If you click on that, it gives you the option to pay via paypal. It then quotes the price in US dollars, which might be a bit expensive due to the exchange rate.

Contact us

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Tel.: +91-11-4209-0909/2332-8944