Mumbai has been allotted 50 of the 300 ‘women-only’ buses approved by the Cabinet last week. Christened Tejaswini, these buses, which would cater exclusively to women commuters, are expected to hit the city roads in early 2017 and will also be operating in Navi Mumbai, Kalyan, Thane-Dombivli and Nagpur.
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“Tejaswini buses will not cover long distances. The focus of these buses is to run on feeder routes. With the buses plying from the fixed route points during peak hours, the time taken to reach the local or the metro station is shorter, thus bringing down their entire commute time,” said Mohan Mithbaokar, Chairperson, BEST, which will be operating the service in Mumbai. He added that the final list of routes that these buses will take will be decided soon.
The Tejaswini buses will not only help working women, but also a number of college students who use the various public transport services to reach college on time. “I usually leave one hour before I have to catch the local train. Finding an auto to take me to the station is a hassle, every day. The evenings are only worse,” said Shukla, who travels from Malad to Vile Parle for college.
Priyanka Nagpal, who lives in Saki Naka, takes a bus to Andheri station before boarding the local to the college. “I take a much longer route than actually necessary because I cannot afford to take a taxi or an auto on a student budget. The sooner these buses start operating, the better it is for the student community,” said Nagpal.
However, Sadaf Vasgare, who travels from Ghatkopar to Churchgate every day, does not believe these buses will ease commuting for women. “With more buses hitting the roads, the traffic is also expected to increase further. Rather than coming up with exclusive buses for women, more trains during peak hours would make more sense. Hassle-free train journey will be preferred any day,” said Vasgare, who changes local lines to reach her office.
While BEST claims that they are currently operating 74 trips of ladies special, Tejaswini service has been introduced following growing complaints of difficulties faced by women commuters during peak hours.