As per a plan by Aam Aadmi Party government, travelling by the metro and bus might be free of cost exclusively for women. According to a Times of India report, the AAP, which holds a 50 percent share in the Delhi metro, along with the Central Government, is planning to provide free travelling facility on the metro and bus transport system for women in Delhi.

“The government is planning free travel for women and girls in Delhi and is all set to face the loss of revenue that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Delhi Transport Corporation, and the cluster scheme buses would be facing due to this decision”, a Delhi Government official told Times of India. The official also added that the State Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot has held a meeting with senior officials of DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation), and has also asked them to submit a proposal as to how the plan of free travel for women can be implemented in the capital. The minister has also asked to include the cost that they would have to bear in the process.

“It will be a good step because metro extends to mostly every part of Delhi. Free travel will allow a larger number of women to travel in lesser time.”

“It will be a good step because metro extends to mostly every part of Delhi. Free travel will allow a larger number of women to travel in lesser time. It will be a great step.” says Sharmishtha Mishra, student of Zakir Hussain College, Delhi.

Challenges ahead in implementing the plan

According to a DMRC official, implementing the plan of free travel for women and girls is not that easy. It would be a major challenge for the government. The official added that the plan might lead to a ‘spurt in ridership’, for which the DMRC needs to be prepared and to handle the additional pressure too. Around 42 lakh people travel by bus and around 30 lakhs of them travel by metro. Of the total people that travel by bus, the number of women commuters is slightly higher than 25 percent. Moreover, the number of women commuters traveling by metro is around 20 percent.

According to TOI, DMRC has currently refused to issue any statement on their communication with the government regarding free travel. Moreover, some from the corporation also said that it would be difficult to implement the plan. “At present, the Delhi Metro doesn’t have any provision to allow for free travel for any person. However, free travel in the metro would require a technological solution”, he added.

Delhi Metro has various facilities for women. One of them is a separate ladies coach in each train. There are also some seats reserved for women in each coach.

“As of now only 33% of Metro commuters are women. The fare hike last year hit women the worst forcing them to shift to more unsafe modes of transport like private buses, ride sharing, or even walking. This move will help them return to the Metro’s safety. More women in any public spaces automatically makes those spaces safer for women. This move will help women reclaim public spaces.” said Atishi of AAP in a Facebook post today.

Women’s safety in Delhi metro

Delhi Metro has various facilities for women. One of them is a separate ladies coach in each train. There are also some seats reserved for women in each coach. Additionally, there’s a fine of Rs 250 for any male travelling in the female coach. CISF has been allotted the responsibility of the patrolling of the platform after the sunset. Quick reaction teams have also been deployed to nab the offenders.

Free travel in other parts of the world

This concept of free public transport isn’t anything new and is known in other parts of the world too. For example, Luxembourg will be the first country to provide free travel as it scraps the fares for buses, trains, and trams by 2020. This, they are considering to be an environmental push. In another example, Germany too is planning to provide free travel to reduce pollution. There are some European cities like Estonia’s capital Tallinn and Dunkirk in France which already provide free transport.

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