Transportation in India – First Hand Experience in Kerala

by Jason on January 3, 2012

Traveling in India is an experience in itself. There are a lot of things here that differ greatly from the United States, or anywhere else that I’ve traveled to. The circulation of the city is a true phenomenon, both in terms of its difference and it’s, in some perspectives, efficiency, as well as its danger.

First off, people drive on the left side of the street. Being accustomed to driving on the right side, this is new. Passengers also step in from the left side of the car, the driver is in the right. The easiest form of transportation for small distances is by rickshaw. These are motorized three-wheel carts that taxi people back and forth. According to the professor, a gallon of gas (after conversion from liters to gallons) is about $20 in America. Fuel efficiency and density is key. These carts, which are smaller and lighter, are still able to carry a driver and three passengers around.

I remember my first rickshaw ride. My classmates and I were on our way to the zoo, zipping through traffic, cutting in between and in front of other rickshaws, cars, and buses; things that weight thousands of pounds more than we did. The rush was immense, the humid air became piercing to the lungs as the little three-wheeled cart flashed through the street to get us where we needed to go.

There are cars and other modes of transportation, though the automobile is not as frequent. It is also smaller. Buses are cheap here and are packed to the point that multiple buses would follow each other closely, all packed to capacity. Motorbikes and scooters are popular, too. Our group generally travels in a large van, and a few of those are around as well.

Honking in India isn’t seen as obtrusive as it does in America. Here, you honk as a warning: when passing by rickshaw or passengers, when passing a car, or when making a turn. There also aren’t traffic lights on every intersection, so everyone just has faith things will turn out well. So far, it all has.

There are no highways I’ve seen in the parts of Kerala I’ve traveled to. Most of the time, we travel on single lane roads for hours on rocky pavement, providing a bumpy ride.¬†Traffics laws are also suggestions here. They work on the law of the muscle, whoever can muscle into a spot takes the spot. It is common to pass each other on the opposite side of the rode, and many times it gets close. Rickshaws and motorbikes have an advantage of mobility and size, squeezing in between a car and a bus, lining up to three or four a lane, and pawing parked vehicles to obtain a more advantaged spot in he street cue. It’s reminiscent of Taiwan and China in terms of the feeling of a constant rush, trying to get everywhere a few seconds faster and before the other person does.

Travel itself has been an experience in India. From the rocky dirt roads, constant blaring of horns, permeable traffic guidelines, and the rickshaw experience; just getting around India is a feat and an attraction in itself. In terms of transportation planning, though the circulation was jumbled, it is unlikely that vehicles would ever stop. In addition, the use of roads are high in density, and the transit is far greater than necessary sustainable levels of use. But it does seem a bit dangerous though