Taxis in Calcutta (Kolkata)
For visitors from out of town, taxis represent the best alternative for navigating the sometimes confusing and always-congested city streets, but awareness is important. When arriving at the airport, use the prepaid taxi counter to get a better deal. Going outside and grabbing your own cab leaves you more open to being charged extra or driven on a circuitous route. When sightseeing or doing business in the city a taxi gets you there efficiently and cheaply, just help yourself by knowing something about where you are going. Most of the drivers know some English and use their meters.
An extensive network of government and privately owned buses operate, but the ticketing is not centralized so a fare usually has to be purchased from the driver. Some buses are modern with air conditioning, but most are older, crowded, and often hot. They do run on schedule for the most part. The trams are overcrowded and fairly slow.
Metro and suburban rail
Metro Railway in the city was the first underground system in India. It runs from Dum-Dum near the airport to Tollygunj. It's part of the greater network of rail lines serving the greater metro area. Rail travel is incredibly important in India, but can be overwhelming to tourists. It's best to do your research before using the trains to help make it a good experience.
Taking a ferry across or along the Ganges is one of the more pleasurable transportation choices in Calcutta. Most of the ferries originate near railway stations or other public transportation, so getting to them isn't that difficult if not using a taxi. Ferry trips along the river allow visitors to see many of the city's top attractions.
The human-pulled carts are something looked upon in different ways. Some see them as demeaning and exploitative, while others see rickshaws as good alternatives on very crowded and sometimes narrow urban streets. They are banned in India, but big numbers of them still operate here.
It's a sprawling metropolis, but there are many areas where either an organized walking tour or a self-guided journey on foot are a great way to experience the sights and sounds up close. Walking through a flower market or bazaar or taking in cultural sites can be a rewarding way to get around the city.