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Safety first: PMPML to allow women to board buses from front door only

To ensure safe travel for women commuters,PMPML — the city’s transport body that ferries 11 lakh commuters daily — is planning to allow women,school and college girls to board buses from the front door only.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published: August 12, 2013 2:59:11 am

To ensure safe travel for women commuters,PMPML — the city’s transport body that ferries 11 lakh commuters daily — is planning to allow women,school and college girls to board buses from the front door only. Significantly,PMPML is mulling the possibility of reserving seats for women,unlike the current practice of reserving seats on the left side. It is also likely to make it compulsory for buses to halt at all stops en route.

These steps will be taken up for discussion at the ensuing board meeting of the PMPML. The meeting is usually attended by PMPML management,which includes chairman and managing director R N Joshi and joint managing director Pravin Ashtikar,mayors of both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad,municipal commissioners of PMC and PCMC and other directors.

The steps are being taken in the wake of a recent government report that highlighted that crime against women are increasing in Maharashtra and there was a need for a concerted effort to ensure their safety,said PMPML officials. The steps are also a part of PMPML’s plan to increase its popularity among commuters and wean them away from using personal vehicles that are choking Pune’s roads.

Currently,women and girls jostle with men to board buses from the rear door,which is too narrow even for two persons to get in at the same time. Besides,complaints from women about men deliberately pushing them aside or indulging in objectionable behaviour are common,officials said. Also,when a bus arrives at a stop,it does not halt in front of the shed,which means women have to chase the bus and then struggle to board it.

“If women are allowed to board from the front door,they would breathe easy and feel safe,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First,which has sent several suggestions to PMPML to make its services safe for women but has received no response so far. “Buses are overcrowded,making commuting very inconvenient for women. The result is that they avoid buses and those having no alternative have to suffer. It is necessary that PMPML should pay special attention to women and make commuting convenient for them. Travel by public transport would also enhance safety for women,” he said.

“Only at major stops,hordes of commuters get down. Women should board after commuters alight. Only after they have boarded the bus,the driver would start the bus,” said Jugal Rathi of PMP Pravasi Manch.

Another significant step that PMPML will consider is to reserve seats for women in all its buses. Currently,seats on the left side are reserved for them. It is also planning to put up boards in buses,requesting male passengers to let women sit first and occupy the remaining seats. Yet another steps includes halting buses at all stops. “Even empty buses do not halt at stops. Commuters keep waving,but drivers don’t care. This sends out a wrong message to commuters who then travel by private means or autorickshaws. Halting buses will infuse confidence among commuters,” officials said.

PCMC Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi,who is one of the directors of PMPML,said they would take all necessary steps to ensure safety of women on its buses. “We will take up the issue of allowing women to board from the front door in our next board meeting. Reservation of seats will also be discussed,” he said.

Every day,PMPML plies around 1,500 buses. If there is consensus on the issue,Pardeshi said,the steps would be implemented soon. “The safety of commuters,especially women,is high on PMPML’s agenda,” he said.

Joint MD Pravin Ashtikar said,“We are taking all necessary steps to make women commuters feel safe in PMPML buses.” He said PMPML understands the need to makes its service safer for women but the efforts are hampered by shortage of buses.

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