Chennai Journal
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Getting Around

There are so many ways of getting around in India, in contrast to the U.S. where we are pretty much limited to cars and airplanes, with trains, subways, and buses limited to the major metro areas. Here, count the ways:

1. walking
2. bicycle --the supervisor of my apartment complex comes this way!
3. motorbike---may be a family outing!

4. Manual rickshaw--you still see these in Kolkata (Calcutta) but I haven't been there yet...
5. Autorickshaw---how many people can you stuff in one? (Í've seen up to nine in an ordinary sized one) ---the yellow and black vehicle next to the green bus in the right hand picture
6. Mini-bus

7. Ambassador taxi---I took one from Bangalore to Kabini in style! (white old looking vehicle in the lower right hand photo)
8. City bus

9. Train
10. Truck
11. Car--not many have one of these but we're certainly working on it!

Please do note the Ford Ikon in the top picture--there are over 1 lakh (100,000) of these on Indian roads and they really are workhorses! They can wade through anything...

Buses are very basic for most people and an important way to get around. In Chennai, the buses are pretty pathetic and look as if they have seen better days (picture on bottom right). In some of the other cities we have been, the buses are in much better shape. The main aspiration is, you want to be able to move up to a 2 - wheeler, which might be a scooter or something bigger, but gives you independence. Bajaj and Honda are the key players in this space. You can get a motorbike (scooter) for under $1000 USD here.

My favorite, though, is the auto-rickshaw, which Marty and I first took in Ooty. Marty became quite a veteran of these in Chennai when our Endeavour wasn't available. Found throughout Asia, and known in Thailand as "tuk-tuks" , the auto is really just a glorified motorcyle. The whole deal is --- you negotiate the fare upfront, because none of the meters seem to work! A trip to one of the major hotels here runs about $1. I would love to import one back to the U.S. but with no seatbelts etc. I think I have a fat chance.....

Most of our workers take a company- run bus to work. This is common, and you see buses from most of the Indian majors---Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant etc. plying the roads. Then, from wherever the drop point is, people get an auto or walk.

As for cars, the market is just booming. The so-called B or mid-sized segment is rapidly growing. Diesels are very big here due to the cost of fuel. Although the small car market is the largest, many are looking to trade up to a larger car where they can take the whole family.

Hi There,
Bajaj Auto is very much in use in USA.
Check this out


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