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Free Ride Scheme: Kejriwal Boards Buses to Get Feedback From Women

Tweeting about the free ride scheme, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said that it was a historic day for Delhi.

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday, 30 October, boarded public buses to get feedback from women passengers about his government's free-ride scheme.

According to official figures released by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) on Wednesday, over 4.77 lakh women availed pink tickets for free ride on the first day of the scheme on Tuesday.

“I boarded a few buses just now to get direct feedback from women. In addition to students, working women, women going for shopping, I also met a few who have to visit doc (doctor) regularly. They are also very happy,” Kejriwal said, in response to a tweet.

In another tweet, the chief minister said the presence of bus marshals deployed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was creating a sense of safety among women passengers and “fear amongst eve-teasers.”

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There are around 5,600 DTC and cluster buses where women can avail free-ride under the scheme through a pink ticket having face value of Rs 10 each. The government has set aside Rs 150 crore to implement the scheme.

As per the plan, conductors are distributing pink tickets having face value of Rs 10 each to women passengers for free travel. The government will then reimburse the transporters based on the number of such tickets issued, PTI reported.

There are around 3,700 DTC buses and 1,800 buses under the cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS).

Good Step, Say Women

Women hailed the Delhi Government's decision to make bus rides free for them in the national capital on Tuesday, according to ANI.

Shweta, a resident of Delhi, said: "This is a good step. Now, the women who could not afford a ticket will be able to travel for free."

"This is good for us but a loss for the government. It will be good if we get the buses on time," another resident Shanti said, according to ANI.

‘Historic Day for Delhi’

Tweeting the notification of implementing the free-ride scheme, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said that it was a historic day for Delhi.

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CM Kejriwal also tweeted on Tuesday, calling it a historic step for women safety and empowerment”.

According to Gahlot, 30 percent of travellers in DTC and cluster buses are women.

The facility will also be available in the Noida-NCR service, airport and other special services operated by the DTC and cluster scheme operators, according to PTI.

During his Independence Day speech, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said free rides for women in both DTC and cluster buses will be started from 29 October, which is ‘Bhai Dooj’.

Grant of Rs 150 Crore for Scheme

The AAP government fulfilled its promise months ahead of the Assembly polls in the national capital. Delhi is scheduled to go to polls in early 2020.

On 29 August, the Delhi Cabinet had given in-principle approval to the scheme of providing free bus rides to women, but put a rider on female employees of the city government that they have to give up their transport allowance to avail of the facility, PTI reported.

The public buses in Delhi carry over 45 lakh passengers each day, according to latest official figures.

According to the government, women employees of the Delhi government, local bodies and undertakings will not be entitled for transport allowance if they opt for free ride in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses.

The free ride scheme in buses and Delhi Metro trains was announced by Kejriwal in June. However, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) sought time to implement the scheme.
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The Delhi Assembly has also approved a grant of Rs 150 crore for implementation of the scheme in metro.

Both DTC and DIMTS will strengthen their ticket-checking mechanisms to prevent "misuse" and "pilferage" of single-journey passes, officials said, according to PTI.

The scheme, however, has come under criticism from the opposition BJP, which has said it was a “desperate bid to buy votes”.

After it was announced in June by Kejriwal, BJP's city unit chief Manoj Tiwari had said the chief minister was making such announcements because he was fast losing ground in Delhi.

Number of Marshals in Delhi Buses to Increase to 13,000

CM Kejriwal on Monday said the number of marshals deployed for Delhi buses will rise to nearly 13,000 from Tuesday.

"Today, I am entrusting you all with a responsibility to ensure safety of women in each government bus and generate confidence in them so that they feel the comfort of a home in our buses," Kejriwal told a gathering of newly-recruited bus marshals at the Tyagraj Stadium in New Delhi.

“We are committed to boost security of women in Delhi. And, I don’t think the level at which we have scaled up the strength of bus marshals, it has been done in any city in the world,” the chief minister said.

Kejriwal said the current strength of bus marshals in Delhi is 3,400.

(With inputs from PTI and PTI.)

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Topics:  Delhi   Women   Delhi Transport Corporation 

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