Public transportation in Mumbai is better than in any other city in India. Mass transit via local trains and buses moves close to 7 million commuters across the city everyday. The omnipresent taxis and three-wheeled auto-rickshaws (tuktuks) help with the rest. Many people in Mumbai have cars especially if they want to commute long distances in air conditioned comfort without the crowds, but you need nerves of steel to take on Mumbai traffic and parking.
In most parts of Mumbai, it is considered safe for a young woman to travel by auto-rickshaw or taxi, even late at night. However, being on deserted streets or in lonely areas alone is not advisable at any time. Commuting by train after 10pm is generally not a good idea. Most importantly, use your judgment and always err on the side of caution when making decisions about personal safety, no matter what time of day it is and whether or not you are alone or with someone else. This rule holds true for both men and women, Indians and foreigners, and for all people of all ages.
Suburban trains in Mumbai run north-south on three lines—the Western Line, the Central Line and the Harbour Line. Coaches come in first or second-class flavors. Ticket prices depend on distance traveled. Regular travelers would be well advised to invest in a monthly or quarterly transit pass, which is cheaper and also bypasses long lines at the ticket counter. Local trains are the cheapest way to get around Mumbai and the most efficient over long distances, but by all means avoid rush hour, if possible. Gentlemen, be advised: there are special ‘ladies only’ coaches. Do not board these unless you want to be severely embarrassed… or even abused and chased off!
The Mumbai government’s website claims that if the trains are Mumbai’s arteries, the buses are its blood vessels. Normal, express, and air-conditioned buses connect people to the areas between train stations. Buses are as cheap as travelling by train.
Auto-rickshaws & Taxis
You can hail a cab on the street or at designated "taxi stands" and "auto stands" which are generally near the bigger train stations and bus terminals. Taxis and auto-rickshaws charge by meter, although some drivers may ask for more than what the meter shows, depending upon whether they are feeling lucky or you are looking desperate to get to your destination. Auto-rickshaws (also known as “three wheelers” or “autos”) are not allowed south of Bandra, where you have to switch to a four-wheeled vehicle, i.e. a car or a taxi, or public transport.
Transit Information & Help
Attempts have been made to develop reliable apps for transit in Mumbai but for now your best bet is Google Maps. You can also try m-Indicator for Android, but the timetables are not always accurate. Check out the Mumbai Local Train blog for timetables, updates on delays, information on accidents, news about budgets and train experiences.