Greater Kolkata has one of the most extensive public transportation networks in India. The diverse modes of public transport in the region ranges from the modern rapid transit system to the old heritage tram system.
The bus network around Greater Kolkata is possibly the most exhaustive in the whole of India and it is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. The routes are written all over the colourful buses in Bengali and also in English. The conductors call out their destinations to everyone they are passing and all you have to do is wave at the bus anywhere and it will stop, at times causing a small queue of other cars behind it. Buses in Kolkata, Howrah and other parts of West Bengal do not have a card system. One has to buy tickets after boarding the bus. The bus tickets are simple paper tickets purchased from the bus conductor.
You can travel 20 km at around ₹10. The exact fare depends on the type of bus. There are both state-run and private buses that ply the city streets.
State-run buses in Greater Kolkata are operated by West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC). These buses are generally painted blue and are identified by the acronym WBTC on the front windscreen and on their body. Non-air-conditioned buses fare start from ₹10 whereas air-conditioned buses fare start from ₹25. WBTC also provides some special transport services on some occasions, like Gangasagar Mela, Durga Puja, Kolkata Book Fair and so on.
West Bengal Tourism operates a pair of double-decker tourist buses from Rabindra Sadan to Jorasanko during festive seasons. These buses are identified with blue and white shades and the roofless (Bengali: হুডখোলা, huḍkhola) upper deck. The ticket costs ₹649 per head for the upper deck and ₹499 per head for the lower deck.
Private buses are run by private operators who are affiliated with bus unions. They are of three types:
- Regular buses: Coloured blue and yellow.
- Short-distance buses (SD): Coloured blue and white.
- Minibuses: Coloured red and yellow but contains fewer seats.
The bus termini in Greater Kolkata are:
- 1 Babughat Bus Terminus, ~8 Strand Rd. One of the main bus termini in Kolkata alongside Esplanade. One can find interstate buses going into Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and other cities of West Bengal.
- 2 Barasat Bus Terminus, Champadali.
- 3 Howrah Bus Terminus (W of the Howrah Bridge, N of Howrah station). Buses are available from Howrah and different parts of West Bengal.
- 4 Esplanade Bus Terminus (Dharmatala Bus Stand). It has bus terminals for buses from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sikkim, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and other parts of the country.
- 5 International Bus Terminus, Karunamoyee, Sector-III, Bidhannagar. The Kolkata-Dhaka bus service operates from here.
- 6 Kolkata Central Bus Terminus (Santragachi Bus Stand) (outside Santragachi station).
- 7 Nabanna Bus Terminus, Andul Rd.
The ferry services to cross the Hooghly River from Kolkata to Howrah is very convenient to zip across both cities. The Hooghly River offers a less crowded but slow traffic medium. There are several points (popularly called ghats and jetties) on the bank of the river from where you can board several regular routes of ferry services. Operated by the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC), the ferries can be fairly large launches to small improvised motorised boats. Even if you don't get any exotic manual boat like you get in Varanasi, the river transport of Greater Kolkata lets you go to several old spots near the bank in a hassle-free manner with an additional dash of the view of decadent riverfront of the cities.
Buy the ticket before you board the ferry and retain the ticket till after you have crossed to the other side and have shown it to the ticket checker near the exit gate or else you will be penalised!
|Ferry ghat||Services||Connections||Other information|
|Armenian Ghat||Howrah–Armenian Ghat|| Burrabazar
|Dakshineswar||Belur Math–Dakshineswar|| Dakshineswar
|Fairlie Place||Fairlie Place–Bagbazar
Fairlie Place–Chandpal Ghat
Fairlie Place–Kuthi Ghat
| Fairlie Place
|Kuthi Ghat||Fairlie–Kuthi Ghat
|Outram Ghat|| Babughat
|Prinsep Ghat|| Prinsep Ghat
The oldest rail rapid transit system in India, the Kolkata Metro is the fastest, cleanest, most reliable and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 5 minutes (rush hours) to 15 minutes (non-rush hours) from 6:55AM-10:30PM from Monday to Saturday and 9:50AM-10:00PM on Sunday. Fares range from ₹5-30.
The four-seat sections at each end of a coach are reserved for senior citizens and the physically challenged. The two middle seat sections, between the general seat sections on each side, are reserved for women. Smoking is also strictly prohibited on the metro premises. Violating any of these incurs a penalty.
Be aware that if you wish to exit at a station during rush hours, you will have to tackle your way through in order to get out before the opposite flow of passengers pushes you back inside. Don't be afraid of using your strength to push yourself out.
|North–South Line or
|Operational||Dakshineswar||Kavi Subhash||The oldest metro line in Kolkata.|
|East–West Line or
|Partly operational||Sealdah||IT Centre||Expected to be fully operational from Howrah Maidan to Teghoria. It would also be the first underwater metro service in India. The expansion progress is tardy due to several incidents of building cracking at Bowbazar.|
|Purple Line||Partly operational||Taratala||Joka||Expected to be fully operational from Esplanade to Diamond Park.|
|Yellow Line||Under construction|
|Orange Line||Under construction||Expected to be partly operational in 2023, from Ruby Hospital (Hemanta Mukherjee) to New Garia (Kavi Subhash).|
|Baranagar||Far North Kolkata|| Dunlop
|Behala Bazar||South Kolkata||Behala Bazar|
|Behala Chowrasta||South Kolkata||Behala Chowrasta|
|Belgachia||Far North Kolkata|| Belgachia
|Bengal Chemical||East Kolkata|| Bengal Chemical
|Central||Central Kolkata|| Central Avenue
Central Metro Station
School of Tropical Medicine
|Central Park||East Kolkata|| Bikash Bhawan
|Chandni Chowk||Central Kolkata|| Chandni Chowk
|City Center||East Kolkata||City Center|
|Dakshineswar||Far North Kolkata|| Alambazar More
|Dum Dum||Far North Kolkata|| Dum Dum Station
Dum Dum Junction
|Esplanade||Central Kolkata|| Esplanade
|Girish Park||North Kolkata||Girish Park|
|South Kolkata|| Bunty Cinema
|Jatin Das Park
|South Kolkata|| Hazra
Jatin Das Park
|Joka||South Kolkata|| Diamond Park
|South Kolkata|| Rashbehari Crossing
|South Kolkata|| Garia Bazar
Garia No. 5
Garia No. 6
|South Kolkata|| New Garia
|Mahanayak Uttam Kumar
|South Kolkata|| Tollygunge
Tollygunge Tram Depot
|Mahatma Gandhi Road||North Kolkata|| Mahajati Sadan
Muhammad Ali Park
|Masterda Surya Sen
|South Kolkata|| Netaji Bhawan
Jadu Babur Bazar
|Noapara||Far North Kolkata|| 34C
|Park Street||Central Kolkata||Park Street|
|Phoolbagan||East Kolkata|| Phoolbagan
|South Kolkata|| Chowringhee Road-Calcutta Club
|South Kolkata|| Bhabani Cinema
|Sakherbazar||South Kolkata|| Kadamtala
Behala Sakherbazar (minibus)
(Salt Lake Sector V)
|East Kolkata|| Salt Lake
|Salt Lake Stadium||East Kolkata|| Apollo Hospital
|Sealdah||North Kolkata|| Sealdah
|South Kolkata|| Dhalai Bridge
|Shobhabazar Sutanuti||North Kolkata|| Shobhabazar Metro
|Shyambazar||North Kolkata|| Shyambazar
Shyambazar 5 Point
|Taratala||South Kolkata|| Ajanta Cinema
|Thakurpukur||South Kolkata|| Thakurpukur Bazar
Thakurpukur Police Station
- See also: Rail travel in India
Greater Kolkata is part of both the Eastern Railway (ER) and the South Eastern Railway (SER) zone. The region is served by both passenger and suburban railway services. The Kolkata Suburban Railway, commonly referred to as "local trains", has the largest suburban railway network in India. Depending on the route, local trains can be extremely crowded. It is less expensive to travel around by train as compared to private taxis.
There are five lines under the suburban railway network, including the Chord Link Line, Circular Railway, Eastern Line, Sealdah South and the South Eastern Line.
Kolkata Circular Railway
The Kolkata Circular Railwayis a railway loop line around Kolkata, which begins and terminates at Dum Dum Junction railway station. The line mostly runs along the Hooghly River and through the city centre. The Circular Railway offers direct interchange points with the North–South Metro at Dum Dum and Tollygunge railway stations, while connecting multiple tourist places and ghats, for example Prinsep Ghat and the Eden Gardens. It provides a scenic view for daily commuters and visitors.
From Dum Dum Junction to Tala, the line is double-tracked, while from Tala to Majerhat, the line is single-tracked. Running by the side of the Hooghly River from Tala to Majerhat, it joins and runs parallel to the Sealdah South tracks after Majerhat and elevates at Park Circus in order to bypass Sealdah (which is a terminal station). After bypassing Sealdah, it rejoins the mainline at Bidhannagar Road and again terminating at Dum Dum Junction.
|Station name||Station code||Location||Connections||Other information|
|Ballygunge||BLN||South Kolkata|| Ballygunge Station
|B.B.D Bag||BBDB||Central Kolkata|| Fairlie Place
Fairlie Place Ghat
|Dum Dum Junction||DDJ||Far North Kolkata|| Dum Dum Station
|Eden Gardens||EDG||Maidan|| Babughat
|Kolkata||KOAA||Far North Kolkata||Kolkata Station|
|Prinsep Ghat||PPGT||Maidan|| Prinsep Ghat
|Tala||TALA||Far North Kolkata|
|Tollygunge||TLG||South Kolkata|| Bhabani Cinema
Kolkata has the only tram service in all of India and the oldest surviving electric tram network in Asia. Though decommissioned in some parts of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of travelling between a few places within the city. They move slowly on the laid tracks in traffic-jammed streets, but they are environment-friendly (no emissions on the street, only at the source of energy generation). The trams were operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) until 2016 when the company merged into the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC).
The tram network had up to 37 routes in the 1960s, but it has gradually reduced to only six routes operating as of 2023:
- Route No. 5: Esplanade–Shyambazar
- Route No. 11: Howrah Bridge–Shyambazar
- Route No. 18: Howrah Bridge–Bidhannagar
- Route No. 24/29: Ballygunge Jn–Tollygunge
- Route No. 25: Esplanade–Gariahat
The reasons cited include financial struggles, poor maintenance, low ridership, the addition of road flyovers, expansion of metro, slow tram speed and perceptions that the trams are outdated and occupy too much road space.
Water-logging, caused by heavy rains during the summer monsoon, often interrupt transport networks. Keep yourself updated with the latest weather news before venturing out to use public transport.