Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
Driving your own vehicle in Kolkata can be very challenging and most opt not to. The main roads are wide but the inner ones can get quite congested. During off-peak hours driving is not too bad, but during the day it can be quite frustrating because many drivers do not maintain basic road etiquette and cows are allowed to roam on the streets, which adds to the chaos.
Taxis are an option, but the meters tend to be out-of-date or not working so you are advised to negotiate your fare before you set out. If you are in a hurry, cycling is an excellent way to get around where the roads are wide. If you don't like to cycle, then walking is a great option.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
Yes, if you have an International Driver's License (IDL) you can legally drive in India. If you plan to rent a car, it is advised that you rent one with a driver because this is much safer. If you plan to reside in India for an extended period of time and hold a valid driver's license (not an IDL) issued by a competent authority of another country, you are eligible to apply for a local license to drive a car or motorcycle. If the IDL expires, a local driving license can be obtained by submitting the expired license and a letter of introduction from the embassy.
What side of the road do people drive on?
People drive on the left side of the road in all of India. If you are not familiar with this, drive with extreme caution.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
Kolkata has an extensive local transport system, including:
Taxis and Auto Rickshaws - These operate within the city, but are not very popular because they tend to be expensive. Most people would rather hire a chauffeur or rent a car from a travel agent.
Cycle Rickshaws - These are available in some parts of central Kolkata and are pulled by men. They are comfortable, but not very fast.
Buses - These are often very crowded and not particularly safe. It is advised that you avoid traveling by bus if you can.
Tram services - These are slow paced, so if you are in a hurry, you will probably want to choose another way to get to where you have to go.
Metro rail - This is the best way to get around, because this underground rail system is very clean, fast and efficient. It is the most comfortable and easiest way to get around within the city.
Circular Rail - You can use this to go from North to South Kolkata; there's a view of River Hooghly.
Boat - The major rail station Howrah Station is just opposite the River Hooghly. Howrah
Station is very well connected with Kolkata through overbridges and boat transportation.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
Yes, expats can use any form of the public transport to go around or outside the city, but the most popular and inexpensive way is by rail.
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Traffic is hectic and some of the roads are very narrow. Given such chaos and congested driving circumstances, it is recommended that you only drive during peak periods after you have had experience and become familiar with the driving patterns of the locals. You should also drive with caution and stay within the speed limit.
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
It is typical to pay in cash prior to setting out, but you can also buy tickets from any of the railway or bus stations.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.