The Ladies’ Special service was revived by former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to provide safe travel to women commuters.
With a view to curbing complaints of harassment from women commuters, the Delhi Government had just a couple of months before the December 16 gang-rape case started a Ladies’ Special bus service on 11 routes. Though the service was subsequently expanded to cover 26 routes, most women commuters insist they seldom find these buses on the roads.
Talking to The Hindu a large number of women commuters said they still have to travel in often overcrowded buses even at night since these Ladies’ Special buses are hard to come by.
“I have no idea of these Ladies’ Special buses”, said Kanika Dhawan, deputy editor with a magazine who lives in Defence Colony, adding that even her mother, who frequently commutes by bus, has not seen one in the last year.
“Which route do they run on? Do they look different? I have not seen any advertisements or promotions of these buses, so how would I know?” she quipped.
Mokhsha Gupte of South Extension said she prefers travelling by either auto-rickshaw or Metro as the buses are mostly crowded. On the mention of Ladies Special, she draws a complete blank. “I had a bleak idea of these buses on some routes but I thought the DTC had terminated them as I had never heard anyone among my hundreds talk about them.”
DTC, however, insists that the these buses operate regularly on 26 routes between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.. Even their tickets are priced at the regular Rs.5, Rs.10 and Rs.15. Moreover, these buses have a woman conductor in the morning shifts.
The Ladies’ Special service was revived by former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to provide safe travel to women commuters. The drivers and conductors were under strict instructions to take the bus to the nearest police station in case of any untoward incident. Also, the responsibility of reporting an incident had been put on the bus staff instead of the victim.
Manager (Advertising and Public Relations) of DTC Ravinder Singh Minhas said the Corporation has been incurring losses by running Ladies’ Special buses on “under-loaded routes”. “On many routes these buses do not run to capacity. We could have considered increasing their frequency, but there has been no bulk demand from women on specific routes.”
“Every woman commuter wants a door-to-door service according to her timings and routes; it is obviously, not possible for us,” he said, pointing out that some routes like Shahdara to R.K. Puram and CGO Complex to Madhu Vihar perennially loss-making. On the other hand there is greater demand for these buses on Uttam Nagar to Nehru Place; and Nangloi to Delhi Secretariat routes.