The main alternative mode of transportation in Mumbai is the auto-rickshaw.
Auto-rickshaws, also called Autos or Ricks, are fast and readily available, but they’re only allowed in the suburbs. Ricks are good for zipping in and out of traffic, and if you can bear the sharp turns and lack of a shock system, then they are actually excellent for short trips.
Auto-rickshaws are open on the sides – they almost look like golf carts – and don’t have seat belts. These basic three-wheelers can accommodate three passengers. The driver sits in the front half, and there is very little space for bags and luggage.
You will easily be able to flag down a rickshaw anywhere in northern Mumbai. Rickshaws do not operate in South Mumbai, which can be defined as at the south end of the Bandra-Worli Sealink Bridge to Colaba. There are no rickshaw stands, as such. If you are on a quiet street, walk up to a busier street or main road where there are bound to be more rickshaws.
Most rickshaw drivers do not speak English, but they understand words like straight, left, right, and stop. It helps if you can state a landmark close to where you are going. Landmarks are often main hotels or restaurants, parks, hospitals, and even the homes of Bollywood stars. If you are unsure about a landmark, bring a print out from Google maps with you. If that fails, then find a passerby who can help you translate.
Auto rickshaws have mechanical meters. Ensure that the initial marking is 1.0, which represents 10 rupees, to be sure the meter is reset. At the end of the ride, the driver will compare the meter reading to a chart he keeps in front with him to give you the fare. (The reason why is because rickshaw rates have recently gone up, and this change is not reflected in the meters.) Fares are currently Rs 15 for the first 1.5 kilometers with subsequent kilometers costing Rs 11. Most of the time, the driver can tell you the amount in English. If not, he will point at the chart, which is an added bonus because then you can check the rate yourself. There is a surcharge for rides between midnight and 5:00 am. You don’t need to tip the driver; rounding off the fare is fine if you want.
- You can calculate updated rickshaw (and taxi fares) at http://rickfare.com
- Mumbai Police also have updated fare cards on their website.
Here is an example:
Meter Reading: 3.0
Auto Fare (Day): 30 INR
Auto Fare (Night): 38 INR
Night fares applicable from 12:00 – 5:00 am.