Getting Around in Delhi

In a city as large as Delhi, it can often feel like the city’s entire populace is trying to commute at the same time. As a result, expats will find that getting around Delhi can make for a hectic and crowded experience. Cars, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, pedestrians and even cows all share the same road.

Drivers often tend not to obey standard traffic laws, adding further to the chaos. Therefore, it is highly recommended that expats, especially those new to the city, don’t try to drive themselves and instead rely on other forms of private or public transport.


Public transport in Delhi

Buses

The most popular mode of public transport in Delhi is buses, transporting about 60 percent of daily commuters. Buses in Delhi are cheap and the network of bus routes is extensive. They are, however, probably the least comfortable way to travel. They tend to be quite crowded and don’t always have air conditioning.

Metro

The Delhi Metro is a fast, clean and efficient form of public transportation. And with new lines continuing to open, the metro is becoming an easy way to travel about the city. It is best to avoid this form of transport during rush hours, though, when the cars can become quite packed. 


Taxis in Delhi

Taxis are easily available in the city and are preferable if one is travelling more than a few kilometres, or on an especially hot or rainy day when an open-sided rickshaw may be uncomfortable. Taxis can be arranged either at a roadside taxi stand or by calling any of the radio taxi services in the city. Another option is making use of ride-hailing applications such as Uber.

Taxis are all equipped with meters, which the driver should agree to use. If he doesn’t, though, expats should negotiate and agree on a price before entering the cab. 

Rickshaws

There are two kinds of rickshaws in Delhi – cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws.

Cycle rickshaws are powered by the driver pedalling in front while passengers ride on a covered bench behind the driver. They have been phased out in certain areas due to the strain they place on traffic, but they are an inexpensive way to travel short distances.

Auto rickshaws are partially enclosed motor vehicles that can be hailed from nearly every street corner in the city. They can comfortably fit up to three passengers, plus the driver in front. They are cheaper than taxis, and, because of their smaller size, can usually negotiate heavy traffic a bit faster.


Driving in Delhi

While expats have the option to buy or hire a car in Delhi, driving conditions in the city are chaotic. Foreigners who do decide to drive need to act defensively and pre-empt the erratic behaviour of other road users.

If an expat plans to live in Delhi for an extended period, then it may be worth looking into hiring a full-time or part-time driver. Many expats and middle- to upper-class Indian families keep drivers on their payroll. Those new to the city will find having a driver especially helpful in negotiating traffic and navigating the sometimes confusing roads. If expats are in India with a company, they should see if the company can help in finding or arranging for a driver.

Katherine Ernst Our Expat Expert

Katherine Ernst moved from Northeast Ohio, USA to New Delhi, India, where she now lives with her Indian fiancé and his family. She currently works in International Education, guiding American college students who are in New Delhi for several months as part of their college educations. Soon, Katherine will experience yet another aspect of Indian life as she plans her multi-day Punjabi wedding. Read about Katherine’s adventures in New Delhi, India as well as her wedding in her blog: My Delhi Adventures.

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