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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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The Wheels of Mangalore

An entry about the public road transport services in Mangalore.

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As the Mangalore Express passes the long Netravati Bridge, one can see the serene waters and green shrubs that border the river. Then a temple jumps into view, followed by a sign board that says

Mangaluru Junction. As one gets off at the station, for a first visit, the Kannada railway announcement “Prayaanikkare dayavittu gamanisi..” may seem intimidating but as years go by, the voice becomes almost comforting; a feeling of returning home. Mangalore has two railway stations to its credit on either sides of the city, Mangalore Central railway station and Mangalore Junction. The latter has trains that travel longer distances than the former and is located farther away from the bustling city.


Image credit : Instagram @mangalore_vibers

As one steps out of the Mangalore railway platforms, one is sure to find a long line that leads to the paid auto stands or find taxi annas who are more than willing to help you reach your destinations.

This will probably be a tourist’s first interaction with the Mangalorean crowd. If after the confusion over taking either a taxi or an auto, one decides to take the latter, all you need to do is pay Rs. 2, get a ticket, and there will be an auto rickshaw in front of you. The auto rickshaw service deserves a special mention for usually going exactly by the meter charge. For up to 2km, the minimum auto rickshaw fare is Rs. 25 and 1.5 times the rate from the odd hours between 10:00pm to 5:00am.  In many places, one may have noticed that if the meter says Rs. 27, it usually means Rs. 30. But not for the Mangalore auto annas, who know that a Rs. 2 they return to the student who is travelling in their vehicle can be used as their bus fare. This is probably why taxi services aren’t as popular as auto services with the students of Mangalore. 

When one walks through the roads of Mangalore, the buses that rush by is definitely a sight that is hard to miss as the conductors will be screaming “Kankanadi, Jeppu, Balmatta banni banni banni!,” as people rush into the already crowded bus number 5. Even though one can barely stand, people find a little corner to rest their feet. As people at the bus stops wait, private buses services like that of Dakshina Kannada Bus Operators’ Association (DKBOA) or that of Karnataka Road Transport Corporation zooms in front of them only to have more people rush in and out of them. The bus fares are not too costly, in fact if you are a student who carries their ID card, you are sure to receive a concession. With just Rs. 5, you can travel from one end of the city to the other. Be it a first time or a long trip on them, most conductors understand when a passenger is unfamiliar with places and make sure they shout out the places as the bus halts at stops. These shouts are routine to the people of Mangalore.

Taxi services of Ola and Uber are also available in the city though it is not as common as other means of public transport. Mangalore is upgrading itself by introducing systems of providing rental two wheelers to licensed personnel for daily commute. With services like ‘Bounce’ two wheeler rentals, even without owning a two wheeler, one can easily book and travel through the city at affordable rates on their own bikes or scooters following required safety protocols. Even cars are available for rentals through self-drive services like Zoomcar or Revv. In these times of fear with Covid -19 spread, transport services do take adequate precautions.

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