Free bus journey scheme hits share autorickshaw business in Madurai

Women availaing of the free bus service in Madurai on Saturday   | Photo Credit: Moorthy G

Free bus journeys for women, as promised by the DMK in its election campaign, came into force on Saturday.

While women passengers expressed satisfaction over the new concession extended to them, the new scheme has hit hard the share-autorickshaw drivers in Madurai city, according to State president of Abe, Optima autodrivers’ Association, R. P. Chandrabose.

“Our main customers were low-income group women. Working women and those who come to Government Rajaji Hospital were our major customers. But, after the free travel for women came into force, our vehicles have been left high and dry. I am getting calls from many drivers who complain of lack of patronage,” he said.

The women preferred share-auto as the vehicles would stop anywhere to pick them up and drop them anywhere on their regular routes. “But, now our customers have moved to buses as it is free for them,” he said. Though it is good scheme for the women, it is hitting our business, Mr. Chandrabose said.

However women are only allowed to avail of the free journeys in ordinary bus services that are limited in number. “This is a good service that would empower women mobility. It will be economically helpful for working women who can save a considerable amount of money every month,” said M. Vellaidurai, general secretary, Virudhunagar –TNSTC, affiliated to CITU.

However, he said that the State Government should ensure that the subsidy meant for the new scheme should be handed over to the transport corporations on time. “Already, the financial condition of transport corporations is not in good shape,” he said.

Though the actual number of buses that are allowed for free transportation for women was not known immediately, crew members have been advised that the concession is permitted only in those buses that bore the stickers of “Free transport for women”.

“Clarity on whether women will be allowed free transportation in limited stop service (LSS) is yet to come,” a conductor said.

In Madurai district, 385 out of 730 city buses/town buses allowed free transportation for women, according to TNSTC General Manager, S. Rajeswaran.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 12:52:57 AM |

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