Both airport terminals have pre-paid taxi kiosks. There's a pre-paid taxi stand outside the south side of Egmore station; a ride of 7km, such as to Alwarpet, costs about ₹240.
Relatively reliable Fast Track taxis charge ₹100 for up to 4km, then ₹18 per kilometre (with a 25% hike in rates between 11pm and 5am); bookings are by phone.
Chennai Metro Rail, a new, part-underground rapid transit system, is expected to open in late 2015 and should make moving around the city much easier. Line 1 goes from the airport to Teynampet, Thousand Lights, Central train station, the High Court and Washermanpet in northern Chennai, running beneath Anna Salai for several kilometres. Line 2 goes from Central train station west to Egmore and the CMBT then south to St Thomas Mount.
The Chennai Metro Rail system, expected to open in late 2015, will provide a cheap, easy link between the airport and city. Meanwhile, the cheapest option is a suburban train to/from Tirusulam station opposite the parking areas of the domestic terminal, accessed by a pedestrian subway under the highway. Trains run every 10 to 20 minutes from 4am to midnight to/from Chennai Beach station (₹5, 42 minutes) with stops including Kodambakkam, Egmore, Chennai Park and Chennai Fort.
Pre-paid taxi kiosks outside the airport's international terminal charge ₹480/580 for a non-AC/AC cab to Egmore, and ₹400/500 to T Nagar. Rates are slightly lower at pre-paid taxi kiosks outside the domestic terminal.
From the CMBT, city buses 70 and 170 to Tambaram stop on the highway across from the airport.
Fixed autorickshaw fares are ₹25 for the first 1.8km (minimum charge), then ₹12 per kilometre. Some drivers still refuse to use their meters and quote astronomical fares, while others take unnecessarily long routes or ask for 'meter plus extra', but most will go by the meter if you insist. Avoid paying upfront, and always establish the meter is on before getting into a rickshaw. Rates rise by up to 50% from 11pm to 5am.
There are pre-paid autorickshaw booths outside the CMBT (₹125 to Egmore) and Central station, and 24-hour pre-paid stands with fare charts outside the north and south exits of Egmore station.
Tempting offers of ₹50 ‘city tours’ by autorickshaw drivers sound too good to be true. They are. You'll spend the day being dragged from one shop or emporium to another.