Free Bus Ride Scheme For Women Begins In Delhi, To Be Extended To Senior Citizens
Commuters board buses during the morning rush hour at a bus stop outside the Maharana Pratap Inter-state bus terminus at Kashmiri Gate in New Delhi. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Free Bus Ride Scheme For Women Begins In Delhi, To Be Extended To Senior Citizens

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The free of cost travel scheme for women in Delhi public buses began on Tuesday with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia saying it will ensure their safety and increase their role in the national capital's economy.

Women will be given pink tickets in Delhi Transport Corporation and cluster buses to avail the free-ride scheme, which started on Bhai Dhooj. The Delhi government will reimburse transporters based on the number of pink tickets issued.

This scheme will help in women empowerment by bridging the gender gap that exists in society, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on his mobile application 'AK App'.

"Now, girls and women who had to drop out of schools and colleges because of high transportation cost don't need to sacrifice their education. They can now take buses to good schools and colleges which are away from their homes. Similarly, women whose offices are far need not worry about transportation cost," Kejriwal said.

The facility will also be available in Noida-NCR, airport and other special services operated by the DTC and cluster scheme operators.

The Delhi cabinet had on Aug. 29 given in-principle approval to the scheme of providing free bus rides to women, but put a rider on female employees of the city government that they have to give up their transport allowance to avail the facility.

Women employees of the Delhi government, local bodies and undertakings will not be entitled for transport allowance if they opt for free ride in DTC and cluster buses, according to the government.

Soon Applicable To Senior Citizens

Bus rides for senior citizens and students might be made free too in the coming days, Kejriwal said on the app, which was launched by him ahead of the assembly polls here.

"Every step cannot be completed at once. We will definitely do it. Let us start with women and see the results, and based on the result we will definitely deliberate on making these rides free for senior citizens and students too in the future," he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party national convener slammed his rivals for questioning his plans to provide such facilities to citizens, saying some things need to be "above politics" and these parties need to realise this.

Delhi is scheduled to go to polls early next year and opposition parties have been alleging that the AAP government is giving "freebies" to woo voters.

"Rajiv Gandhi (former prime minister) had said out of Rs 100 spent for welfare of people, Rs 85 goes into corruption and just Rs 15 reaches people. We are saving those Rs 85 and giving facilities to the people of Delhi. Then what problem does the opposition parties have if I am working towards the welfare of the people. They should get above politics in these matters," Kejriwal said.

On deployment of marshals on buses, he said they will now be deployed in all the public buses to ensure safety and protection of women.

"I warn all goons harassing women in buses that if you try to harass women there are marshals to take care of you," Kejriwal said.

Asserting his government's commitment to boost women security in Delhi, he on Monday said the number of marshals on buses in the national capital will be increased by nearly 10,000 on the auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj.

India will grow only when the women of the country grow. Giving free rides to women in buses can prove to be a very big step towards women empowerment, the chief minister said.

Public buses in Delhi carry over 45 lakh passengers each day, according to latest official figures.

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