Where have all the Ladies Specials gone?

Where have all the Ladies Specials gone?

Where have all the Ladies Specials gone?

Commuting by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses has never been an easy task, especially for women.

If it’s overcrowded with men then getting down at the required destination is always a jittery proposition.

‘Well, who has asked you to travel in a bus when the Metro is a safer option?’, is what you hear every time you try to speak your mind.

Many think that Metro is the only solution.

 Can anybody explain to these people that in areas where there is no Metro connectivity and autorickshaw charges can empty half your salary in 15 days, DTC buses comes across as the common man’s blessing in disguise!  

In 2012, the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi Government had given due thought to the harassment faced by women commuters in DTC buses and introduced the Ladies Special bus on 11 routes.

Thereafter, the December 16 gang rape case happened and the service was extended to 26 routes.

Even a special ‘ladies coach’ was earmarked for women travellers in the Metro.  

Women commuters had reasons to feel happy, but not for too long.  

Given that women’s issues are never a priority for the government, except when a major incident occurs when there is much sound and fury, the special buses too vanished from the City’s roads  just as soon as they had come!

 “Are these buses really plying on City roads?” questions Saumya Tripathi, working as receptionist in one of the private firms in Jhandewalan Extension.

She commutes to Lodhi Garden very frequently. “I have never seen a Ladies Special bus on my route. If these buses are plying, who will intentionally travel in a bus where there are always chances of harassment?” says the young woman. 

Similar views were shared by Richa Bajpai, who takes a DTC bus from Lajpat Nagar to Barakhamba Road.  

“Even if I believe that these buses are running, their frequency must be very limited. In that case what is the point running the bus when you can’t avail the service at any time of the day?” is Richa’s query. 

When Metrolife posed all these questions to the Manager (Advertising and Public Relations) of DTC Ravinder Singh Minhas, he denied that the services have come to a halt.  

“There are specific routes on which Ladies Special buses are plying. Considering the demands of women commuters, we have been running the buses during morning and evening hours. There are 500 DTC routes out of which Ladies Special is doing trips on 26 routes. Definitely, you will not see these buses everywhere,” says Minhas.  

Instead he laid stress on getting an idea of the routes where these buses ply. He emphasised on using internet and making ‘extra physical effort to avail the service’.  

Ironically, a majority of women using DTC buses hardly carry smartphones or are well acquainted with internet.

Secondly, if commuters have to every day make that  ‘extra effort’ to avail the facility of public transport then in that case the public transport system is clearly not serving its purpose.   

On the other hand, another DTC official requesting  anonymity said, “According to a 2010 forecast on total bus requirement, the City requires 11,000 buses. However, only 5,000 buses are moving on City roads. Now, after four years the demand has also increased. City needs 14,000 buses. When we are already running with limited number of buses, how can we fulfil the demand of commuters? Definitely, frequency has to be limited.”

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