Metro Fare Waiver to Make Travel Safer? What About the Way After?
The Delhi Metro fare waiver for women looks like a hasty step.
The Delhi Metro fare waiver for women looks like a hasty step.(Photo: Shruti Mathur/ The Quint)

Metro Fare Waiver to Make Travel Safer? What About the Way After?

I remember the first time I boarded the metro for college admissions with my father; scared, apprehensive, and excited. For that metro ride as well as for the ride ahead.

Since then, for almost 6 years now, I have taken the metro almost everyday. I have seen it at its best and its worst.

I have experienced being molested in a crowded metro. I have also traveled safely at midnight when there were only three people in the train.

The recent move by the Delhi government to make metro rides free for women, left me, like a lot of others, with some mixed emotions. Mind you, I am not talking about men who are raising a hue and cry about “equality”. To them I just want to say, Bhai, please sit down!

Also Read : Women can travel free in DTC buses, Delhi Metro: Kejriwal

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The announcement reminded me of the times I was a part of student protests against fare hike. To which the DMRC always had one standard response – they are not even breaking even and to ensure smooth functioning, the hike is necessary.

I saw employees protesting because there was a hold-up of salary. Reason; lack of funds.

In such an economic condition, how do they plan on making this viable?

Anyway, I think I will make my peace with it. Maybe for the greater good and all that.
But when the Delhi CM said that the step is being taken to ensure women’s safety, the argument looked flimsy to me.

In conversations over the years, no matter what, women considered metro as the safest public transport. In order to make transport safer, doesn’t it make more sense to increase patrol? Or deploy more women personnel who are seldom seen on stations?

They have also proposed to make bus rides free. There were promises of police personnel in DTC buses, who sometimes make a paltry appearance in some of the AC buses on some South-Delhi routes but seldom anywhere else. Or the promised CCTV cameras in buses? An investment in those, could certainly help? But again, let that be. A new move should be given a chance, maybe.

Also Read : Twitteraties question logic behind free Metro ride for women

Visibility, Accessibility? Maybe. Safety? I Doubt It

What I and a lot of women like me care about is the last mile connectivity.

The part that still scares me and hundreds of others like me. Areas where streetlights don't work. Where there are no cameras, neither a patrol.

If the quest is to make Delhi safer, shouldn’t something be done to make my way from the metro station or the bus stop to home, safer? The stretch where more often than not, bad things happen?

According to the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data available, Delhi’s crime rate is higher than the national average. This includes the cases reported to the police including harassment, molestation, kidnapping etc. This is excluding petty street crimes happening everyday from different part of the city like eve-teasing, snatching, petty theft and what not, that go unreported.

According to data released by Delhi police in 2018, over 5000 cases of snatching were reported last year, most of them directed at women. According to an RTI, the cases of kidnappings and abductions reported was 65% in 2017-18, out of which 63% were against women and children.

As per studies, many women prefer walking to places rather than taking the public transport because of the cost, and this move will encourage a lot of such women to take the public transport, which in turn will increase their visibility in public spaces, encouraging more women to come out and travel. I acknowledge all that. But the unsafe streets will still remain an issue.

Women from weaker economic backgrounds will be able to take a metro ride without worrying about the cost, but what about the fear that something bad might happen once they are out of the metro station?

Many of these women, including domestic help in our homes, travel from far-off areas like Seemapuri, Nangloi, Trilokpuri, Najafgarh etc to name a few locations. For many of these areas, the roads to their homes are grossly unsafe, to say the least.

The poorly lit streets encourage lewd comments and eve teasing that more often than not, go unreported.

Support on Ground Sounds Better Than Free Rides

Walking fast clenching whatever they can grab to their chest, hoping they reach home without something bad happening, is something many women do everyday.

This fear will not go with not paying the metro or bus fare. This will only go with better lighting, working CCTV’s, vigilant patrolling, more police posts and women constables.

My Delhi will be safer when the first thought that comes to my mind is not that will I make it back home safe, without anything bad happening to me.

Maybe the move will help in getting more women onboard, but will it make their mobility any safer? I highly doubt it.

I say, make my travel safer where I don't have to think 10 times before stepping out of the metro station thinking how will I reach home safe once it's dark.

Ensure me that if something happens to me, the emergency number will not ring into nothingness but there will be somebody on the other side, ready to help me.

Safety is a feeling, defined by much more than the geographical location and it takes much more than making my travel free for making it safe.

It takes much more for my father to not call me at 7:30 in the evening, after 6 years of daily travel to ask me if he can pick me from the metro station which is a kilometre away. 

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