I have been quite critical about driving and driving conditions in India earlier on this blog. Most of it has been from infrastructure, roads and pollution point of view. Although, these are serious negatives, have you thought about positives of driving in India?
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In one of his recent guest post – What Developing Nations Can Teach Us about Personal Finance -, the author Terry M has written about his experience of traveling in Bangalore as compared to US.
In all the bashing I have done about India’s traffic, infrastructure and roads, this post reminded me that India also has one of the best and cheapest public Transportation available on the face of this earth. The two wheelers that we have are highly fuel efficient and used by majority of Indian middle class.
Here is what Terry M has to say about his experience in Bangalore:
Driving in India
I spent a month working in Bangalore, India, last year, and it has had a tremendous impact on how I view the way I live. At the time I had been driving my SUV eight miles each way to work, alone. In Bangalore, there is a system of buses, and the employers all operate buses to go from the main residential districts to the offices. Every day in Bangalore I took the bus to and from work, for free. In Bangalore most people take the bus to work. Public transportation is good, and you can also get a ride on auto-rickshaw very cheap, maybe around $1-$2 to anywhere in the city. Some people have cars, but even more people have motorbikes, a nearly forgotten mode of transport in developed countries.
A motorbike costs about 1/10th the price of a car, and costs maybe 1/5th as much to operate. Say all you want about how the cost of living is cheaper in India than in developed nations, but gasoline costs about 2x what it does in the U.S. and any imported car costs 2x as much as the US due to the 100% import tax. So how do Indians get away spending so much less on transportation than we do? When I went to Bangalore I realized immediately that my American lifestyle of driving to work in my SUV alone every day was a total waste, an enormous waste, an enormous inefficiency I cannot begin to describe
If I look back at my college days, time was actually never a factor when going to meet friends or relatives. You could reach anywhere to anywhere within 20 to 30 mins. The only thing was that you needed was a two wheeler. This is the scenario in most parts of India, except may be Metro cities due to their size.
What about cities like Mumbai and Delhi and Bangalore?
The public transport network of Buses and trains is so good that you no need to have your vehicle + it is very light on your pocket.
I know people traveling from Pune to Mumbai and back daily (a distance of 200+ Kms) via trains for last 20 years every work day! And what does it cost them?
Only $5 to $6!
Yes, sure there are problems, like crowded stations, badly maintained Buses and trains and pollution. But look at the other side of the story too…