Transportation - Get In
Mumbai has excellent connectivity with most of the major cities around the world, including, New York, London, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur to name a few. If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are many frequent flights available. All domestic sectors are linked to Mumbai, making it busiest hub in the country (find the best airfare here ).
Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is one India's busiest airports and one of the main international gateways to the country. Many international airlines such as British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa & Singapore Airlines fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as Air Asia also fly to the city.
The airport consists mainly of two terminals (for Domestic & International purposes) - both terminals use the same airspace but are 4 km apart. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them but be prepared for long delays through security. Going from Domestic to International you are taken outside the airport and you will re-enter through International Departures.
As of October 2015, the transition of all domestic airlines to an integrated Terminal 2 is planned, with Air India already having moved.
- Terminal 1 Domestic Terminal
- Terminal 1A: in the process of being decommissioned - only some flight arrivals
- Terminal 1B: serves various private airlines, such as Jet Airways, Indigo, SpiceJet, & GO Air
The domestic terminals are undergoing a long overdue upgrade. Terminal 1B now meets international standards and work is going on at Terminal 1A.
- Terminal 2 Newly revamped International Terminal. Also serves domestic flights for Air India and Vistara.
To and from airport
The airport is 28 km from downtown. Take a prepaid coupon taxi to minimize hassle. Never pay more than ₹450-₹600 for a prepaid taxi, as they will pounce on the unwary tourist. This amount should get you all the way to the southernmost point of Colaba, the main tourist district. While it is possible to take metered taxis to your eventual destination, it is always a safer bet to take the prepaid taxis, in order to avoid being taken to your destination via a longer route, thus increasing the meter reading! While it is not mandatory to pay extra charges for your luggage, a tip of ₹50-₹100 shall always be appreciated. Be extra careful with the main prepaid counter on the left as you leave the terminal. The ₹100 bill and the ₹500 bill were very similar at one point of time. Both the bills are still under circulation, and it is advised that you carefully check bill you are paying as well as the change you are receiving.
There are many prepaid taxi offices all in a row as you are exiting the airport, if one offers a very high rate, just walk to the next window and so forth until you find one with a good rate. Go to the taxi office and purchase a coupon to take to the driver. The coupon will have the taxi registration number written on it. Make sure that you get into that very taxi. Do not accept a lift from someone claiming to be a taxi driver as they may charge much higher prices designed to target tourists. The charges will depend on the general area you need to get to and will include all tolls to be paid. Most premium hotels will organize their own cars which is a much better alternative.
While most drivers should not have any problem delivering you to major hotels and intersections, do not assume your driver will be familiar with lesser known hotels etc.. Before departing, make sure you have secured full address of your destination. By taking this extra step, you should avoid any delays.
You can also take a bus/taxi/auto to Vile Parle Station and take a local train from there, although to catch an auto you might have to walk around 200m to the busier intersection of the road. Travel 1st class to avoid hassle. Do not try this during the morning rush. It's a good option in the evening, since it's off-peak direction then.
In any of the above cases, if you do not have a pre-booked vehicle (either by the pre-paid counter or an arrangement with the hotel), please use public transport only on the basis of the meter reading. If a driver insists on agreeing on a fare before boarding the vehicle, please insist on going with the meter.
Parking at airports
Paid parking is available at the airport. The charges are ₹60 per four hour block for cars. Longer term parking is available in a "premium" area but it is hideously expensive, costing as high as ₹600 per day.
There are ATM terminals in the international arrival area and many moneychangers near the exit as well. In order to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, you will need cash rupees. There are prepaid taxi dispatch desks nearby, but they accept only cash, and only rupees.
A common scam locals play on tourists is when your taxi cab pulls up to the airport, a man will get your luggage out of the trunk, put it in a cart, push it for you towards the terminal and along the way will ask you for a ₹500 baggage fee. This is a lie, there is no baggage fee, and you should tell them no thank you and you kindly take the cart and push it yourself.
Trains arrive in Mumbai from all over India. The Central line serves connectivity to Southern India,Eastern India, and parts of North India. The key stations are Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, CST [CSTM] (formerly Victoria Terminus, known just as VT), Dadar Terminus [DR] (for Central Line) and [DDR] (for Western Line), and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus [LTT] (formerly called Kurla Terminus).
The Western line connects to the Western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and some parts of North India. The main termini are Mumbai Central [BCT] and Bandra Terminus [BDTS].
The Konkan Railway (which is a separately administered and newly built line) travels through the picturesque Konkan coast of Maharastra and is a good way to travel from Goa and Mangalore, coastal resort areas to the South. The Dadar Terminus is the destination for the line.
For trains to other Indian cities, the main reservation offices are at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, and Bandra on the Western line and CST and Dadar on Central line. There are special ticket windows and quotas for foreign tourists. For bookings and tariffs on train tickets to anywhere in India from Mumbai, visit Indian railway's website. To travel unlimited on the Mumbai you can use [TOURIST TICKET] Mumbai Local Tourist Ticket provided by the Indian Railways.
The Maharajas' Express is a luxury train that will take you to Delhi.
Numerous travel organizations now offer cruises to Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, etc. Though the cruise industry is still developing, Mumbai can be reached by such cruises. Ferries from Ferry Wharf allow cheap access to islands and beaches in the vicinity of the city and the Elephanta Caves.
National highway numbers 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17, and the Mumbai-Pune expressway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country. The road conditions are generally better than in the rest of India. The comfortable airconditioned blue cabs are available to Pune and Ahmednagar-Nashik from opposite Asiad Bus Termina in Dadar and Lakhamsi Nappoo Rd near Dadar east railway station respectively. Distances from various cities to Mumbai are:
- From Other States: Ahmedabad (550 km, 12 hrs), Bangalore (998 km), Chennai(1109 km), Cochin (1384 km), Goa (593 km, 11 hrs), Hyderabad (711 km, 24 hrs),Mangalore (713 km), New Delhi (1407 km)
- From Maharashtra State: Amravati (673 km), Ahmednagar (300 km), Nagpur(844 km), Pune (160 km, 2.5/3hrs)
Mumbai is well served by buses from destinations inside India.
- Asiad Bus Service The bus terminal, popularly known as 'Asiad Bus Terminal' on Ambedkar Rd in Dadar east is another hub from where buses travel to Pune at regular frequency of 15 minutes to 1 hour. The fares are in the range of ₹100-₹200 and buses vary in comfort from ordinary to luxury with airconditioning. Other routes available are Mumbai - Satara, Mumbai - Nasik. The easiest way to reach the terminal is to cross over using pedestrian foot bridge to Dadar East from the Dadar Terminus and walk straight all the way (less than 5 mins) to Ambedkar Rd.
- Private Buses There also exist numerous private bus operators who operate a large number of services from/to Mumbai from most major cities like Udaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Indore, Nashik, Aurangabad, Hyderabad, Belgaum, Hubli, Bangalore, Mangalore, Trichur and Goa. For Pune, buses depart every 10 minutes. Crawford Market, Dadar T.T, Sion, Chembur and Borivili are the main starting points. Some of the reliable private operators are - National,Neeta, Sharma, VRL, Konduskar, Dolphin, Paulo and Southern Travels.
- ST Buses The MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation), (Mumbai Central: +91 22 2307 4272/ +91 22 2307 6622, Parel: +91 22 2422 9905 Dadar: +91 22 2413 6835) commonly known as ST, operates services to Mumbai from various cities in Maharashtra. Mumbai Central is the most important Terminus in the city. All major cities in Maharashtra and nearby states are connected through Mumbai Central Terminus. The other important ST depots are at Parel, Nehru Nagar-Kurla, and Borivali. You can get buses for all over Maharashtra from these depots. But from Mumbai Central you would get buses any time as well as other State Transport buses. Quality varies.
Transportation - Get Around
Most of Mumbai's inhabitants rely on public transport to and from their workplace due to the lack of parking spaces, traffic bottlenecks, and generally poor road conditions, especially in the monsoon. However, do ride in a taxi and auto at least once in the city. If you are not used to Indian roads, an auto-rickshaw ride can be a heart-stopping, death-defying, laws-of-physics-bending. Feel real adventure in a vehicle that feels like it might fall apart at a speed over 30 km/h with a driver who thinks he's Schumacher.
- TMT (Thane Municipal Transport) operates services in the Thane city and areas around it.
- The MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation), commonly known as ST, operates services from selected points in the city to the extended suburbs. From Dadar, services to Navi Mumbai and Panvel and from Borivali to Thane being the most prominent. Numerous other important routes are also covered in the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) by the MSRTC.
- NMMT (Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport) operates services in Navi Mumbai Area, and a few points around. They also have services from Mulund in Greater Mumbai.
- KDMT (Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Transport) operates in the Kalyan-Dombivali Area with a few connections to Navi Mumbai.
Another option is to book bus tickets online from Redbus website which has tied up with a number of large private bus operators all over India.
Black & Yellow Top Taxi
Taxis are cheap and plentiful ($15–18 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other). Most taxis in Mumbai are small-medium sized Fiat cars (non air-conditioned), painted black-and-yellow (black on lower body and yellow on roof). The legal maximum limit on the number of passengers in a taxi is 4, excluding the driver. You can hail a cab off the streets. However, many are quite rickety, dirty, and carry mechanical fare meters that could be tampered at times. However, by Feb 2013 all Taxis are instructed to shift to electronic meters which are somewhat tamper-proof. If you encounter a mechanical meter post that date, you can put up a complaint to the closest traffic police cop. Also, according to law, a black-and-yellow taxi driver cannot refuse a fare. If a driver does refuse, a threat to complain to the nearest cop usually does the trick.
If you have extra pieces of luggage, the boot (i.e. trunk) of the taxi will not provide sufficient space - one large suitcase is all that will fit there. Hiring a taxi with a top carrier will be better. Top carriers can accommodate up to three large suitcases. Before starting the journey, ensure that the luggage is securely fastened to the carrier.
Generally, the only way to call for the standard taxi is to hail one on the street. This will not be a problem if you are inside city limits (i.e. North Central Bombay and below). If you are in the suburbs, it will be difficult to find a taxi as they have been out-competed by the cheaper auto-rickshaws.
The maximum number of passengers allowed for a trip officially is four — three in the back seat and one in the front. Seat belts are not mandatory for taxi passengers and most standard black and yellow taxis will not even have them installed, though expect them in the branded ones.
Blue & White Top Taxi
The Blue and White (B/W) Taxis are premium public Taxis which are the air-conditioned version of the Black and Yellow (B/Y) Taxis. All the rules of the B/Y taxis apply to the B/W taxis too, except that the B/W taxis are air-conditioned. Moreover the fare of the B/W taxis is 20% higher than the B/Y taxis. This is the premium expected for the air-conditioned, which is really helpful for tourists and travelers who are not accustomed to the heat and pollution of Mumbai. Moreover, all the B/W taxis ply with electronic meters, unlike the B/Y taxis.
Since the fare of the B/W is at a premium, the common-folks usually do not prefer to travel by the B/W taxis, and is primarily used by tourists or business travelers. For the lack of demand, the lack of supply is also expected. The taxis ply frequently, but are not easily available on all locations. You can always expect them to be available at tourist hot-spots like Railway Stations, Airports, Premium Hotels, Top Tourist Spots, etc. If you are not travelling through either of the above locations, and you need the air-conditioned comfort, but do not want to go look for a taxi, it is suggested that you move to the next section.
If you want a comfortable, air-conditioned ride at a small surcharge of 25 percent over normal taxis it's best to travel by branded cab services that operate at government-approved tariffs. These services operate modern fleets with well trained drivers. You can get them at 30–60 minutes notice, they are clean, air-conditioned, equipped with digital, tamper-proof meters, punctual, honest, and GPS-equipped-monitored, which makes them far secure at any time. If you're using a mobile phone, you receive an SMS with the driver's name, mobile number and car number 30 minutes before scheduled departure. Charges are ₹22 for the first kilometre and ₹15 for subsequent kilometres, with a 25% night surcharge (midnight-5AM). Some can be booked online.
Follow the queue system to board a taxi. Quite frequently, tourists and new visitors are mobbed by unscrupulous taxi drivers. Most drivers are honest, but the dishonest ones tend to cluster around railway stations and airports where they can more easily find suckers. Unless you are taking a prepaid taxi, always ask taxis to go by the meter. At the start of the journey, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down fare/meter reading.
Travelling in Mumbai is generally safe at any time of the day or night. The risks primarily run if you are not aware of the fares and fare calculations (only applicable to non-electronic and non-prepaid meters). If you travel alone, especially in night, then always see the meter by yourself and then pay the fare. If you are alone, it is recommended that you sit in front so that you can see the meter. Please also note that the night charges are only applicable if you board the vehicle during the night hours (12AM to 5AM). If you had boarded the vehicle before midnight, and your journey is finishing after midnight, you are not liable to pay night charges. Similarly, if you board the vehicle before 5AM and you finish after 5AM, you ARE liable to pay night charges.
Unlike other part of the country, especially Delhi where rape is prevalent, crime is rare, except for possibly common crime like pickpocketing.
One of the common scams is to charge the night fare rate during daytime. You should be careful and read the heading before paying. In some cards, the night fare is red in color and the daytime fare is black in color.
When you pay with a ₹500 note, make sure it does not get swapped with a ₹100 note. Both notes look similar.
Sometimes, auto-rickshaw drivers charge the taxi fare and even show you a tariff card which is used for taxi fare computation.
You can download m-indicator app which is available in Play Store and iTunes App Store. This app carries latest taxi fares, auto fares, bus services details and local train time table.
Auto-rickshaws are only allowed to operate beyond Bandra in the western suburbs and beyond Sion in the central suburbs. They are not issued licenses in the downtown areas.
Before departing, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down reading as 1.00 (on a mechanical meter). If the number is higher, insist that the driver flags it down once again. The minimum fare is ₹18. The meter remains at 1.00 for the first 1.6 km and every 0.10 movement indicates approx 200 m (i.e. 1.50 for every 0.2 km). The fare is ₹7 for every km, except for the first 1.6 km for which it is ₹15. Every auto driver is supposed to carry a valid RTO approved meter tariff card. You can check this tariff card before paying. The meter also keeps ticking if you are waiting and/or are stuck in traffic. It's quite handy to have a copy of the meter card issued by The Mumbai Traffic Police. All of this appplies to mechanical meters, not digital meters. Newer digital meters have started becoming common from 2012 onwards, and they show the exact fare, so there is no need to convert via the tariff card.
Auto-rickshaws are slower than cars and have terrible suspensions. Pregnant ladies are most strongly advised not to travel by auto-rickshaws since the combination of rash driving, poor suspensions, and horrible road conditions have quite often led to serious complications. The auto-rickshaw is a slow and uncomfortable vehicle and not recommended for very long distances.
- Mumbai Metropolitan Region — The Mumbai Metropolitan Region around Mumbai is fast developing into a major conurbation. If you need to get to the surrounding cities of Thane, Navi Mumbai or Kalyan, bus services are available.
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (known as BEST) provides efficient and comprehensive services connecting up all places of the city and the suburbs. Some services also link the city with the extended suburbs like Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mira-Bhayanadar areas. Seats are almost always occupied. There are bus stops all over the city. There is usually a crowd and queue. You have to get in through the rear entrance and off at the front. Tickets are issued by a uniformed "conductor" after you get in. Special seats are marked for "Ladies", "Senior Citizens", "Handicapped", "Expectant Women", and "Women with infants". They can get in from the front.
Buses run from 5AM to midnight. Selected routes run beyond these timings, but much less often. Average frequency between buses ranges from five to 30 min depending on the route. Fares are reasonable and buses can be travelled during peak hours, unlike trains which are far too crowded. Some trunk routes do get extremely crowded however. Peak hours also have traffic snarls which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads.
Buses are numbered and the final destination is marked on the front in Marathi and on the side in English. Generally, buses around the city and trunk routes would be in the 1-199 series. Buses in the western suburbs would be the 200 series while those plying in the central and eastern suburbs would be in the 300 and 400 series. Services to Navi, Mumbai are in the 500 series and buses to the Mira-Bhayander area are in the 700 series.
The BEST website has a nifty tool that will help you plan your journey.
BEST has introduced the "DayPass" (Cost for adults — ₹25 (across Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and Thane) - for children it's less), a ticket valid all day (until midnight) on all buses except Express and A/C services.
Suburban rail network
Most people travel in Mumbai using theSuburban Rail Network commonly referred to as "Locals". Mumbai has an extensive network, with three lines — the Western Line, the Central Main Line, and the Harbour Line.
- Mumbai is a linear city and the Western Line travels from Churchgate to Virar via Mumbai's Western Suburbs. The Western line provides North-South connectivity.
- The Central Main Line travels from Mumbai CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), aka VT Victoria Terminus to Kalyan via Mumbai's Central Suburbs and Thane, with some services running beyond to Karjat, Khopoli, and Kasara. The interchange point between the Western Line and the Central Line is Dadar.
- The Harbour Line has a common stretch between Mumbai CST (aka VT Victoria Terminus) and Vadala. The harbour line splits into two spurs, the main one running to Mumbai's Eastern Suburbs and Navi Mumbai, up to Panvel. The Interchange point of this line with the Central Main Line is at Kurla. The other spur of the Harbour Line runs up to Mahim on the Western Line and runs parallel up to Andheri. The interchange stations with the Western line are Bandra and Andheri.
Trains on all lines start operations after 4AM and close operations between midnight and 1AM. Second class travel is very cheap. However, it is advisable to buy first class tickets as the economy class is extremely crowded. First Class can be quite expensive and if four people are travelling together, a taxi might be better. There would always be queues and it would be advisable to buy coupon booklets. Coupon booklets punching machines are available at all stations and the best thing is you will not have to stand in a huge line to buy a booklet. Another option is to buy a Smart card for Railways. It helps you maintain balance like any a gift card with an option to refill it once it goes below the limit. Smart card outlets to buy tickets are available on all stations. They are touch screen based and you can simply follow the instructions to buy a ticket for the right path.
If you are a tourist, you can buy a 'Tourist Ticket'. It costs ₹160 and you can travel in first class compartments of all the three lines during the entire day. Ensure the location of the first class compartment before the train arrives. You may ask fellow passengers or the vendors at the various foodstalls. An easier way to spot the location of the First class compartment is to check the station walls painted with red and yellow slant stripes.
Avoid using local trains during rush hour (first class or otherwise). Rush hour is 8:30AM–10:30AM towards CST and Churchgate and 5:30PM–8:30PM in the opposite direction. If you are traveling during rush hour, don't stand near railway track as you will get swamped by frantic. Take no offense if you are pushed and shoved about, as passengers jostle for a spot. As you near your exit station, ensure that you are as close as possible to the train door, as experienced commuters, will be begin the mad run to be first on, or off, the car before the car comes to a full stop! If you stand any chance of getting on/off before the train depart, you must be equally aggressive in your focus to exit/enter, remember no one will take offense if you make contact with others, as you wriggle by! Last, but not least, exiting/entering a train before it comes to a full stop is not something to be taken lightly, one misstep can send a person onto the rails with an amazing ease! Leave the stunts to the experienced locals.
There are special coaches for women on both classes. These are designated by green and yellow slant stripes, spot these stripes on the station walls and you'll know where the ladies compartment is. These are generally less crowded and safer. But very late at night, it might actually be safer to travel by the general coach than the first-class women's coach, as the latter may be absolutely empty except for you. From 11:15PM - 6:30AM the ladies compartment towards the northern end is open to general public. Sometimes they have a cop guarding the coaches, but sometimes they won't. Use your judgment.
The Mumbai Metro currently connects the western suburbs to the eastern suburbs. Line 1 runs from Versova to Ghatkopar with interchange options available at Andheri(Western Line) And Ghatkopar(Central Line) Railway Station. The travel time is 20 minutes.
India's only monorail in Mumbai has started its operation recently. It has one line and eighteen stations throughout the city. The fare is between ₹5 and ₹11 depends on your destination station.
These are a few intra-city ferry services:
- Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves Fast boats and Catamarans operated by private operators. These are moderately priced. This is only way to get to Elephanta Caves.
- Gorai (Borivali) to Gorai Beach Low cost ferry connecting Gorai Beach/Esselworld.
- Marve Jetty (Malad) to Manori Jetty Cheap ferry (by BEST) connecting Manori and Gorai. Also services for Esselworld (Amusement Park).
- Versova (Andheri) to Madh Jetty Cheap ferry connecting Madh/Erangal/Aksa/Marve.
Travel agents and hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven cars to provide services. Expensive by comparison with taxis, they are the most trusted, secure, and comfortable way to travel around the city. Driving in Mumbai can be difficult, because of poor driver discipline, but chauffeur driven services are very reasonable. These can be arranged by travel companies or online from the countries of origin. Car rental agencies also have services in Mumbai.
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