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Although Bengaluru is known for its green spaces and also considered India's 'Garden City', it is ranked as one of the world's most traffic-congested cities. Getting around in Bengaluru can be chaotic – with vehicles and pedestrians ignoring the rules and vying for dominance on the road.
Bengaluru's public transport and road networks are more limited than that in Mumbai and Delhi, but the city remains well connected to the national rail network through the main stations, such as Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru Station), Yesvantpur Junction railway station and Bengaluru Cantonment.
The metro, which is continually developing, is a convenient way to avoid the roads and one of the more efficient ways of getting from A to B. Still, most people get around using auto rickshaws and buses. Expats may prefer to travel by car, but driving oneself in the city can be nerve-wracking. For this reason, most expats prefer to hire an Indian driver who is familiar with the various areas as well as the driving style of locals.
Public transport in Bengaluru
The Bengaluru Metro is also known as Namma Metro. The network consists of two main lines (purple and green) which serve about 40 stations.
Those travelling on the metro infrequently can opt to buy tokens which are valid for a single trip. For expats who plan on making regular use of the system, the best option is to purchase a contactless smart card, known as Varshik. Varshik allows passengers to load and recharge credit easily and make considerable savings.
Trains on the Namma Metro generally run from 5am to 11pm and are relatively frequent with a train arriving between every 4 to 20 minutes.
The local bus network is extensive and covers most of the city and its suburbs, while a comprehensive regional bus network offers transport to areas beyond Bengaluru. Inter-city buses are operated by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) as well as several private companies.
Although local buses tend to be very crowded at rush hour, especially in the city centre, buses in Bengaluru are a cheap way of travelling and used by many of the city's residents.
Taxis in Bengaluru
Taxi cabs are more expensive than buses and rickshaws, but are a more comfortable way to get around. They run on a meter and are usually modern, air-conditioned cars with drivers who know the city well.
Passengers may need to book their services over the phone, usually in advance, especially if they plan on travelling during rush hour. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Ola Cabs are also operational in the city.
These ubiquitous three-wheeled vehicles are a quick way of getting around, but it can be a hair-raising experience. Although they operate on meters, be sure to agree on a price before going anywhere. There has been a move for pink autos directed at female passengers in Bengaluru, however, progress has been slow.
Driving in Bengaluru
Expats who plan to be in India for an extended period of time often rent or buy a car and some hire a car and a driver. Local drivers generally know their way around and can get around quicker than an expat would.
Numerous companies offer these services, but expats should make sure they go through a reputable one and check the car for scratches and dents beforehand so they don't end up paying for any existing damage.
Expats who attempt to get behind the wheel themselves may struggle. Road conditions in Bengaluru aren't always good, local drivers are often erratic and signage isn't always clear. Bengaluru also ranks as one of the world's most congested cities and traffic becomes gridlocked during rush hour.
Some foreign driving licences will allow expats to drive in Bengaluru with an international driving permit. We recommend confirming this with the relevant government department or embassy.
Cycling in Bengaluru
The roads and traffic in Bengaluru don’t make for a cycle-friendly city. Expats who want to get around by bike are advised to wear a helmet and be vigilant of pedestrians and other road users.
On the other hand, cycling is a great way to explore the region and make friends. New arrivals can find cycling groups on social media pages and easily arrange meetups. There are also great areas off the main roads where cyclists can explore new routes and even venture out of the city, such as Ulsoor Lake or Nandi Hills.
Walking in Bengaluru
Walking may not be the best option for getting around in Bengaluru, in terms of safety and speed. The roads are nightmarish and pedestrians are not safe from this chaos. Expats who opt for walking must do so with caution, particularly when crossing busy streets.
That said, new arrivals can familiarise themselves with the city by taking a tourist walking tour. The Garden City also offers great parks, such as Cubbon Park and Jaya Prakash Narayana Park, with great trails for casual strolls as well as jogs.
Walking around neighbourhoods in Bengaluru give a great sense of what they have to offer – historically, socially and culturally, such as the ancient temples in Malleswaram, as well as the nearby local markets.
Are you an expat living in Bengaluru?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bengaluru. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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