Sunday, June 3, 2012

Commuting in Kolkata; How bad is it?

I love Kolkata, there is no doubt about it. The city has always been nice to me, there is still a sense of security and comfort about the city. I remember when I was out of Kolkata for about 10 months or so, I really missed it. I missed it even more when I had trouble commuting. I don't think there is any other city that provides such a lot of options in terms of public transport, Bus, trams, autos, metro, local trains, taxis, cycle rickshaws...

I would wait for autos and they would refuse to go or charge an exorbitant amount and even then you may not get dropped till your doorstep. I used to want to come back to Kolkata because no matter I would always get taxis to anywhere.

There has never ever been a problem as far as commuting in Kolkata goes. It has been quite a few years since then, and I may be changing my opinion on that.

Last Friday I went through an experience that I think many Kolkattans face these days. I did not have the car with me. When I came out of my office around 7 pm, I thought I would get a taxi within a few minutes.

It has been a long time since I traveled without my own transport in the peak office hours. Not only did I not get a taxi after waiting for 45 minutes near SDF building and College More in Salt Lake Sec V, I probably walked almost the whole of sec V, Nicco park, even Salt Lake Sec III in search of a taxi which would take me home or even a bus or a share. Buses were impossible because they were so crowded that I don't think I would have survived such a long trip! But people do travel in crowded buses, day in and day out, and I don't know how they do it, I guess they do not have an option. There are AC buses that ply long distance, and I thought it would be nice to get on to one of those. But the one bus that stopped for passengers was already so full that I just could not think on getting on  to it.

It was strange that there was barely any taxi without passengers. If any empty taxi happened to pass by (barely one or two), there were so many people running after it that I inevitably lost the race (I am afraid I am not a good runner)  Some taxis did not stop at all, even though the passengers were waving frantically, and if a taxi did stop, they refused to go where you want to go!

It is so sad that after a hard day's work one has to struggle so much to get home!

I should also add that it was a rather hot and humid evening, walking for over 1 and a half hours made me so sick that just did not know what to do. Autos were available, if you were prepared to wait in a line. So I lined up, and finally got an auto to Karunamoyee in Salt Lake. From Karunamoyee, I thought I would get a direct bus or a taxi but unfortunately that did not work out either. I took another auto to City Centre where usually there are taxis readily available. Success finally! I got a taxi, and was finally on my way home!

I think Salt Lake Sec V the IT hub of Kolkata gets close to 1 lakh commuters every day. I wonder why we still do not have a taxi stand in Sec V. There should be one near SDF, and  another one in College more. I was disappointed about the plight of people who have to depend upon public transport to commute every day. All the metros in India face this problem, I hope we find of way of tackling this soon.

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