Taxi and Auto-Rickshaw Travel

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TRAVEL TIPS

Taxi and Auto-Rickshaw Travel

Mumbai's sights are spread out, so getting around by taxi is a sensible—and cheap—option. You can flag down yellow-top black taxis anywhere in the city. Insist that the driver turn on the meter before setting off—in fact, if you turn the meter on yourself, the driver is less likely to scam you. Most cabs are equipped with digital meters nowadays, so you are less likely to deal with negotiating using the dreaded tariff cards. But if you do enter the rare cab without a working digital meter, ensure that they have a tariff card to consult before you drive off. Drivers must show riders the cards, which show how much you’ll pay based on distance, but they sometimes "misplace" them, or whip out a chart for air-conditioned cabs, or show you fares chargeable after midnight. At this writing, the legal fare was Rs. 19 per kilometer, but negotiations were in the works to raise the rate. Consult with your hotel’s front desk to confirm the up-to-date rate before leaving to sightsee via local taxi.

In the last few years on-call air-conditioned taxi services have been springing up—and the drivers are usually reliable. Meru and MegaCab are the best services, but even they can miss your scheduled pickup time, so book the car for at least a half-hour earlier than you actually have to leave if you're headed to the airport. Still, they're generally worth it for the sheer comfort.

You can hire an air-conditioned taxi for a full day (eight hours or 80 km [50 miles], whichever comes first) for Rs. 1,000, and a half day (four hours) for Rs. 550. Ask your hotel what the going rates are in case they've gone up. Hiring a car and driver often presents a more comfortable ride at a better value than hiring a taxi for extended periods of time. Also, because there is no contract, you're not locked in, and if you don't like a particular driver, you can hire a different one the next day. Both Mega Cabs and Meru Cabs have an automated phone system, but if you stay on the line you'll eventually speak to an agent, and they'll send a confirmation by text message.

Auto-rickshaws are permitted only in Mumbai's suburbs, where you can flag them down on the street. Oftentimes, there will only be rickshaws available to you on the streets beyond Bandra, so it helps to get accustomed to using them. (Highway riding can sometimes feel a bit nerve-wracking when you’re being driven without a door against a sea of trucks.) Rickshaws almost universally have digital meters now, and the fare, as of this writing, is Rs. 15 per km.

Contacts

Mega Cabs. 22/4242–4242; www.megacabs.com.

Meru Cabs. 22/4422–4422; www.merucabs.com.

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