A stifling ordeal every day

A stifling ordeal every day

Bus Journey

A stifling ordeal every day

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) may make tall claims of having improved the connectivity and frequency of buses to various parts of the City.

The management too may be doing its bit to sensitise the conductors and drivers about good etiquette and safety of passengers. Despite all this, women who travel by buses have a tough time dealing with conductors who are not only rude but also try to get physically close to them.

Metrolife interacted with the management of the BMTC to understand why this problem has been overlooked and asked women commuters about the issues they face when travelling by bus. A packed bus leaves practically no room for people to move. You have to clutch on to whatever you can and stay put till you reach your destination. But conductors brush against women passengers and walk up and down the packed bus although they have the option to get out and get in through the other door.

The management of the BMTC says that if incidents of sexual or verbal abuse are reported to the authorities, severe action will be taken against the offender.

“Women could report such incidents to the BMTC, mentioning the vehicle and route number. We will make sure that the person is caught and punished. The punishments may vary depending on the severity of the offence,” informs Dastagir Sharieff, general manager traffic, BMTC.

Anjum Parwez, managing director, BMTC, points out that earlier, the conductor was expected to sit in the seat assigned to him. People had to buy tickets from the conductor before entering the bus.

“But now, people don’t do that anymore, so the conductor is forced to walk up and down to ensure that people are not travelling without tickets. But we understand that this is certainly a problem for women travellers. Therefore, we are recruiting 250 women conductors. This is to ensure that the women conductors form at least 35 per cent of the total workforce in BMTC. This will ensure that women passengers feel safe,” informs Anjum.

Women passengers say that they always feel unsafe. Not only are the conductors rude but they try making small conversation with them. Puspalatha, a student, says, “We return from tuitions pretty late and I encounter a lot of drunk men on the bus who act very funny. There’s no check whatsoever on drunken men on a bus. The conductors aren’t very helpful when women are travelling late at night.”

Namitha, another student, too has encountered unpleasant experiences. “There have been instances when the conductors have brushed against women, thanks to space constraints. It’s awkward,” she says.

Lia, a commuter, shares similar sentiments. “I choose not to say anything. Not out of fear but because language is a problem. I stay away from getting into any arguments with strangers, especially at night,” Lia signs off.