Chennai - Post Report Question and Answers

Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No experience, but heard good things about the metro (and pictures look nice as well). Uber and Ola (Indian-style Uber) apps are easy and cheap. Most have cars/drivers, so use of other services are infrequent. - Jan 2024

Grubby! - Apr 2023

Taxis were dirty, no a/c, and often no seatbelts. It's not a great option compared to other cities in the world that have real taxi services, because you never know what you will get. Autos are cheap and easy, but hot and unusable during the monsoon rains due to floods and sewage water flowing in the streets of Chennai en route to work; you would not want to get splashed with that water. - Apr 2023

Ubers safe and affordable for the most part, many of them don't have seat belts in the backseat. If you have the money buy a car. It's not necessary to hire a driver. - Aug 2021

Available and affordable, yes. Uber is widely available and you can get anywhere in the city for a few dollars max. - Apr 2021

Yes, very. Uber is cheap and used extensively among foreign residents. - May 2019

Uber and Ola are great and cheap and highly recommended. Tuk tuks are also good but you need to know how to bargain. The new metro is very cheap and safe but still under construction with limited stops. I have not used the buses. - Aug 2018

Uber (and Ola, a local Uber-like company) plus auto rickshaws are reliable and affordable around town. However, expect some frustration (much longer waits than your app shows, drivers who don't know how to read the map, rickshaw drivers who don't speak English and charge you triple what they should because you're a foreigner, etc.). - May 2018

We weren't supposed to use the buses. Trains and taxis were safe. They are cheap, but they also try to overcharge you. Negotiate a price before getting in. - May 2016

Uber and another similar company, Ola, are very affordable. Both take some time to learn how to use with local customs, and both require a good deal of patience. Auto-rickshaws ("tuk-tuks") are cheap, but foreigners get gouged until you learn tricks for how to pay. Auto-rickshaws contribute badly to pollution and I would recommend people avoid them for that reason alone. I do not use other forms of public transit. - May 2016

Uber and a host of other radio taxis are safe and affordable. - May 2015

We used auto Rickshaw when we arrived or our driver called in sick. Rental cars are pretty expensive. Uber is popular and cheap. - Mar 2015

Auto rickshaws OK for short distances, but know your route and bargain beforehand. Taxis also OK when needed but most don't have seat belts or AC. Safety is always a question but everyone uses taxis. - Oct 2014

I would not take them. I did occassional take the local open air type cabs but only for very short distances. - Oct 2014

Trains are fine, cheap and a fun way to see the country. The stations themselves can be chaotic but once you do it, it's easier the second time. There are taxis, most people hire personal drivers. Auto rickshaws are everywhere and cheap (although they will try to charge foreigners more), they are not the safest but easy for short trips. Buses are not recommended. - Jun 2014

Autos and taxis are generally very safe and affordable. The only snag with autos is there is usually a song and dance about fare price, as the driver will claim the meter doesn't work and then quote you the foreigner fare. Sometimes the driver will try to take you to certain shops where he will collect commission for bringing you. All this can be infuriating, so nowadays I personally avoid using autos. However - this is a personal choice - generally you can get around OK. We don't take buses or trains. Uber has recently arrived in Chennai and it appears to be reliable. - May 2014

I use taxis for longer trips and autorickshaws for short trips when I need to. Taxis are safer I suppose, but usually don't have working seat belts. They are safe enough for me to feel comfortable using them. Always use the meter in taxis and negotiate a rate with autos before taking off. - Aug 2013

There are trains and buses, but I have not taken either locally. They are both crowded and inexpensive (I don't know about safe). Auto-rickshaws are everywhere and will take you wherever you want to go after you negotiate a price. - Jul 2012

We take autorickshaws when necessary, though they're physically unsafe. The drivers are pushy, but not dangerous. Intercity trains are safe and ok, especially the Shatabdi to Bangalore. Some have taken the local rail transit without complaint, though just one look at those doorless wonders has made me wonder at their sanity. Local buses are crowded at a level that would make me worried about pickpockets. - Aug 2011

The taxis are the auto rickshaws which are safe to take. The buses are scarry. Too many people and leaning to one side, not safe because of pickpocketers too. Travel by train is common and safe especially if you get reserved seating in 1st class (cheaper than it sounds). You have to bargin for your rickshaw ride before you get in but they are very cheap. - Jun 2010

Auto rickshaws are safe and cheap. Taxis are hard to find except at the airport. Buses are crowded. - Sep 2009

Trains are fine. Buses have people literally hanging off the side of them, so no expat I know has ventured onto one. Taxis are almost exclusively tuk-tuks or auto rickshaws. They use no meters. You can go anywhere in the city for under $5 but the pollution is quite bad in these things. - Aug 2008


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