The big hype surrounding the launch of Women’s Special, the bus services introduced in the city exclusively for the fairer sex by the Vijayawada region of AP State Road Transport Corporation is beginning to fizzle out due to lack of patronage. The initial enthusiasm that marked the launch is missing evidently after the fairer sex spurned it. “The response is lukewarm. We introduced these Women’s Special services on the most busy stretch between Kaleswara Rao Market and Autonagar Gate, expecting an overwhelming response. But leave alone the buses getting filled to their capacity, we still find vacant seats,” says A. Koteswara Rao, Regional Manager of the RTC, Vijayawada region.
Responding to public representations, the RTC even effected changes in the routes and timings of these services. But girls don’t seem to mind commuting with their male counterparts, feel the RTC authorities.
Jolted by a sudden spurt in instances of eve-teasing and ragging in this region, the law enforcement machinery decided to put in place stringent measures to check these social maladies.
The city being a potential educational centre attracting a large number of students from across the State, the need to step up efforts to protect the fairer sex from the growing atrocities was increasing felt. As part of its drive against eve-teasing and ragging, the city police impressed upon the RTC authorities to operate special buses meant exclusively for college girls and working women to ensure safe commuting. “These buses are operating on the major traffic corridors but not all college girls seem to be looking for an exclusive commuting facility,” feels Mr. Rao. The morning services have good patronage but in the evenings, the crowd gets scattered. “Though not very remunerative for the department, we will continue to operate these services for welfare of women. The loss incurred is shared by the four buses that operate on these routes,” he says.
Ironically, at the time of the launch of these services, the RTC officials had promised to augment the service based on public response.
But the fairer sex does not seem to be willing to embrace the ‘fragile’ tag as yet.