70 special buses for women infrequent, fail to attract commuters, incur losses

The civic body may have announced measures to ensure safety of women in the city, including setting up of CCTV cameras in buses, but a few of Chennai’s existing measures have failed to live up to its mark.
70 special buses for women infrequent, fail to attract commuters, incur losses
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Chennai

During the 1960s, Ladies Special buses were introduced in the state. But now, the buses hardly have any takers and a few of the services have also been cancelled because of the losses the corporation have been incurring.
The Treasurer of Labour Progressive Federation, K Natarajan, said, “Around 70 Ladies Special buses ply for the benefit of working women across the city. But they do not bring in any profits. A couple of the services were curtailed because of the low patronage.”  
Members of the Transport Union claim that the corporation does not have any substitutes in case a bus breaks down or runs behind its schedule.  “In case a special bus departs from the terminus at 8 am and gets stuck in a traffic jam, the commuters waiting at the subsequent stops will not be provided with an alternative bus to make up for the lost time,” said Natarajan.
A driver of a Ladies Special that plies on DMS bus route said that on several days, the bus hardly sees any passengers. “On several days, we have run a vacant bus. Women passengers, especially college students, seem reluctant to avail the service,” said the driver not wanting to be named.
Meanwhile, commuters blamed the shortage of special buses and their skeletal frequency for the low passenger count. A resident of Kodambakkam and assistant professor of Woman’s Christian College, Parama Gupta, said, “The buses are so infrequent that I had to look for other options.” 
“Public transport is heavily crowded during the peak hours and even finding a space inside share autorickshaws is a herculean task. I finally found a solution by arranging a private van operator who charges nominal rates," she added.
A senior MTC official, however, refuted claims of infrequent service and said, “We operate 250 buses along 120 routes in the mornings and evenings. We never received any complaints from the public to increase the number of buses.” 
Then there are some that oppose such special services. Bhargava, a regular bus commuter said, “Normal buses have seats reserved for women. Then they are also  provided with dedicated buses. If women demand equality then they should uphold it in all spheres.” 
‘Lack of safety can reduce use of public transit'
“The lack of personal security, or the inability to use public transport without the fear of being victimised whether on public transport, walking to or from a transit facility or stop, or waiting at a bus, transit stop, or station platform can substantially decrease the attractiveness and thus the use of public transit,” notes the Global Mobility Report, 2017. It was published by the World Bank-led partnership SuM4All (Sustainable Mobility For All), the report is the first major assessment of the global transport sector. The report is an assessment of the efficiency, safety, green credentials and accessibility of all forms of transport. It concludes that all the four areas need significant improvement.  
Similar initiatives in other states
  • BEST in Maharashtra introduced 300 special buses and ‘Tejaswini’ services for women  commuters for the first time in 2017
  • Kashmir’s valley first woman bus service was started at Srinagar in 2016
  • Uttar Pradesh has proposed to launch 50 new air-conditioned buses for women under Nirbhaya funds in 2017
Examples around the world
  • A Reuters survey of 16 major cities worldwide found that women in Latin American cities suffered the highest rates of harassment, with about 6 in 10 women physically harassed on transport systems
  • Bogota, the capital of Colombia, was the most dangerous city examined in the Reuters survey, with women saying they were scared to use transport after dark. In Mexico City, 64 percent of women said they’d been groped or physically harassed on public transportation

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