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Motion sickness

Gurgaon’s public transport is rotten. The choice is between getting fleeced by radio taxis, crushed inside crowded buses or murdered by illegal cab operators, reports Sanjeev K Ahuja.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2008 00:58 IST
Sanjeev K. Ahuja

Don’t be surprised if a rickshaw puller in New Gurgaon asks for Rs 50 to go 2 km. He knows you don’t have a choice. He’s merely exploiting your situation.

Residents of the city are used to such fleecing by now.

“Every time I am stuck somewhere, I am forced to hire a cycle rickshaw. I pay Rs 50-150 to go 2 to 5 kilometres,” said Rashmi Chopra, a human resource consultant who lives in DLF City Phase IV.

Rashmi rued the fact that Gurgaon had no “DTC buses or metered autos” to commute in. “Being a woman, I cannot risk travelling in shared auto rickshaws that are packed with labourers,” she said.

The lack of public transport in Gurgaon hurts women the most.

Kamakshi Batra (name changed), executive with a

multinational, had a terrifying experience while travelling to work in a cycle rickshaw. When she reached Sikanderpur Chowk, two youths on a motorcycle snatched her bag containing her laptop, cash, debit and credit cards and some documents.

No option

So what are the public transport options available to Gurgaon residents? None, really.

There is no ‘effective’ bus service on the lines of Delhi’s DTC or Mumbai’s BEST. The City Bus Service introduced in August is woefully inadequate with just 18 buses to cater to a population of 25 lakh spread over an urban area of 500 sq km.

There are no metered auto rickshaws either. While there are around 1,000 (largely unauthorised) smoke-belching three-wheelers, these cater to the low-income group. Their fares are low but they are terribly crowded (see picture).

Talking of unauthorised taxis, there are also the call centre cabs that ferry passengers during their after hours.

These became notorious after some drivers were found guilty of murdering passengers for their cash and valuables.

At the other extreme are swank radio taxis that, in the absence of any regulation, are prohibitively expensive. They typically charge Rs 15 per km.

Going forward, Delhi Metro’s Gurgaon link seems to be the only silver lining on the city’s transport horizon.

However, even the Metro might prove a case of ‘too little too late’. The Metro will reach Gurgaon only in 2010, and then only till Sushant Lok.

Meanwhile, the lack of CNG fuelling facilities in Gurgaon has also hit the city’s connectivity with Delhi, where only CNG buses are allowed on local routes.

With just 20 CNG buses at its disposal, Haryana Roadways has had to discontinue its services to a number of important places in Delhi, such as railway stations.