The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life in a shuttle 1

It is one Kolkata's favourite alternative transports, mainly for those coming and going to the fringes, especially an officegoer's favourite on way home. It gives one the joy, comfort and utility of travelling in a taxi at just a fractional fare or a car without owning one. And it is an unofficial means of travel.

It is shuttle car/ taxi, popularly known as shuttle. In short, a taxi running full, not on meter but on a fixed charge per passenger or a private car doing the same. There are professional shuttle cars too, whose business is running shuttle service on 'fixed routes'.

It thrives especially in the routes not taken up by regular transport options. And it can be a blessing for those who would otherwise had to take a break journey.

The route to the airport from central Kolkata is a 'hot' shuttle route. Car drivers going to airport to pick up a client's person make some extra income by taking some passengers and dropping them at various places till its destination. The operating rate is Rs 15 from Beckbagan (AJC Bose Rd island between Minto Park and Kalamandir) to airport, but you may be lucky if you happen to catch an 'amateur' car going to airport, who might charge you just Rs 10. All because its just some extra money for him, so no need to be insistent on 'operating rate'.

One is luckier when the driver of a modern/ snazzy car, like an Indica or Qualis or Chevrolet going to airport calls for passengers.

Other hot shuttle points (other than Beckbagan) known to me is Karunamoyee of Salt Lake and Beleghata junction on EM Bypass.

Shuttle is an important part of working life of many living on the fringes of Kolkata. More about it follows.