Starting Tuesday, women have the choice to commute for free in public buses in the national capital, a concession made possible through an initiative of the Delhi government. The facility will be available in NCR, the airport and on other special services operated by the DTC and cluster scheme operators.
Who is paying for the free rides for women?
The initiative is funded entirely by the Delhi government, which has set aside Rs 140 crore for its implementation over the five months from October 29, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
For every free journey undertaken by a woman commuter, the Delhi government will extend a flat subsidy of Rs 10 to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the DIMTS (Delhi Multi-Modal Transit Ltd) under which the city’s public bus fleet operates.
How many women will benefit from the scheme?
Around 42 lakh individuals ride buses in Delhi every day on an average. According to official estimates, around 33 per cent of the total ridership comprises of women. Women comprise only 11 per cent of the workforce of Delhi, a city of nearly 2 crore people. In a video message, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the move would be a major step towards the empowerment of women in the city.
How many buses will be involved in this?
The DTC, which is entirely state-run, has a fleet of 3,781 buses. Another 1,808 privately-owned cluster buses are operated and managed by the DIMTS. The average fleet utilisation of DTC buses is 84.63 per cent and that of cluster buses is higher, at 98.6 per cent.
The DTC’s fleet has both airconditioned and non-airconditioned buses, with different fare structures. Fares in non-AC buses are Rs 5 up to 4 km, Rs 10 for journeys of 4-10 km, and Rs 15 for commutes longer than 10 km. Non-AC bus fares are Rs 10 for journeys up to 4 km, Rs 15 for those between 4-8 km, Rs 20 for 8-12 km, and Rs 25 for journeys longer than 12 km. The cluster buses, which are orange in colour, are non-AC. The fare structure is similar to that of non-AC DTC buses.
How will the scheme be implemented?
Women commuters can choose to pay or not pay for their rides. Women who avail of the scheme will be handed specially designed tickets that will be pink in colour. The number of tickets handed out to women will help the DTC and DIMTS keep an account of the number of free commutes, in order to claim reimbursement from the government.
Was this the best way to go about the scheme?
The Delhi government’s Finance Department had proposed a need-based model, suggesting that waivers, if at all, should be given only to women from the EWS category. It had cited the sluggish growth rate of the city’s tax revenue and DTC’s losses while making the recommendation.
The Finance Department had also questioned the rationale behind the proposal to provide a flat subsidy of Rs 10 per commute, irrespective of the distance travelled. It had also expressed apprehensions about the capacity of the existing bus fleet to handle the potential jump in ridership after the implementation of the scheme.
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