Gurgaon, a commuter's nightmare

The millennium city is a place for the affluent. You are haplessly lost in this maze of skyscrapers without a vehicle of your own


Puja Bhattacharjee | June 6, 2013

On the few occasions that I have had to travel to Gurgaon, transportation is the biggest challenge I faced. Travelling to your destination from the metro station is not a hassle. Every metro station has a fleet of auto rickshaws waiting at the gates. While they mostly quote exorbitant amounts, you are at least assured of safely reaching your destination.

However, how you travel back to the station is a challenge.

On a recent visit, I waited for a fairly long time at Subhas Chowk for transport back to the station. It was a sweltering summer afternoon and not a single auto-rickshaw, bus or cycle rickshaw was in sight. Sure, a few share autos were plying – the ones that take four or five passengers and you pay a fixed amount – but incidents of harassment narrated by friends discouraged me to opt for them.

Instead, I waited till I spotted a rickety old bus in the distance. There were very few passengers in it and I had to get off some distance away from the station as the bus was going in a different direction. The autos were charging Rs 100 to take me to the station, which was barely five minutes away.  That day, I burnt a hole in my pocket. Now whenever I travel to Gurgaon, I make prior transportation arrangements.

Friends living in Gurgaon tell me that they often book an auto to get to the metro station from home. It ensures that they reach the station safely and on time. But even then they are fleeced; auto drivers claim lack of sufficient commuters as the reason for charging more. “They leverage on our helplessness and we have no other choice,” says a friend.

There are no rules to govern the few public transportation that ply. You either give in to their demands or remain stranded.

A bureaucrat I once met had commented that Gurgaon is developing into a DLF city with no provision for public transportation. “The urban infrastructure of Gurgaon is in abysmal condition,” he had remarked.

Having lived most of my life in Kolkata, I can say the suburbs there, home to very modest people from modest background and a far cry from flashy Gurgaon, are way better on this aspect at least. They have the last-mile connectivity. Once I visited a relative who lives in Hindmotor, in Hooghly district of West Bengal. From my home in south Kolkata I took a taxi to Howrah station from where I boarded a local train. On reaching Konnagar station I took a rickshaw to his house. I noticed that on every nook and corner of the street there is some mode of transport available – and throughout the day.

While many residents of the city may not require public transport, as the fleet of cars outside most houses indicate, for a commercial hub dealing with thousands of people who venture there for work every day, the Gurgaon authorities need to address the issue in some form or the other.

But the stark truth, as a colleague in office remarked as I sat down to write this blog, is Gurgaon is nothing but a postmodern waste land. And one that would do little to inspire any Eliot wannabe.



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