Transport refers to the system of carrying persons and goods from one place to another. It is the life line in the progress of agriculture, industry and commerce. Karnataka is a land with varied natural resources. Minerals, commercial crops , forest products and sources of energy are available here. In order to achieve economic development through proper use of these resources, an efficient transport system is essential. Karnataka is primarily an agricultural state. Different means of transport facilities are necessary to transport food grains and other agricultural produce, to the market, minerals from mines, manufactured goods from the factories , people from one place to another and for various other purposes. Karnataka has well develped road, rail,water and air transport facilities.
A large number of people live in rural areas in Karnataka So , road transport occupies every important role in linking the villages and towns.
Roads can be constructed easily, at low cost. People and goods can be transported to every corner of the state. Development of roads determines the progress of the state's agriculture, industry, mining and commerce.
Road transport has been in use from ancient times in Karnataka . Kings and emperors constructed roads for the use of their soildiers and for administrative purposes. There were travel shelters (where a place to rest, and water to drink were avaliable), resting shelters, orchards and choultries. Roads to connect the coastal regions to the inland areas had been constructed.
However, roads were not much developed in the pre-independence days in Karnataka. There were roads linking Bengaluru and the district centers in the old Mysuru providence, but they were not well- organized. After independence when the Vishala Mysuru State was formed in 1961, totally 43,182 kms of roads were laid. At present, the total length of the roads is 2,31,062 kms. Of which 35. 70% are metalled roads whereas 64.30% are unmetalled roads. There has been an improvement in the quality of roads.
In Karnataka, railway is the second most important mode of transport next to roadways. It helps in economical travel to distant places and transportation of goods. The first railway line in the state was opened for traffic in 1864 . This laid between Bangaluru and Madras by the Madras railway company.
In Karnataka state, there is no uniform distribution of railway tracks in all the districts.
Air transport is the fastest mode of transport. It helps to carry people, mail and light weight goods to distant places in the shortest time. Air transport is of great help during natural calamities, wars and other emergencies. However , it is the costliest mode of transport and not avaliable to everyone.
Karnataka has inland as well as sea waterways. Their availability is limited and so, not very significant in transport . Earlier, the inland waterways were confined to small rowing boats, dingies and rafts. At present , motor boats have come into existance. They are used in Udupi, Uttar Kannada and Dhaksina Kannada districts.Boats are used in some places to cross the Krishna river. With the development of road and railway transport, the use of water transport is limited.