The gruesome rape of a girl in a moving bus on Sunday night has exposed the acute lack of safe, reliable public transport during night hours in the national Capital.
It is, in fact, a major reason why most people seek options such as chartered buses, auto-rickshaws and, in some cases, private taxis to commute during late at night. The 23-year-old girl who was gang-raped on Sunday had also boarded one of these buses.
During the day the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has approximately 6,200 buses plying on approximately 450 routes in the city. However, at night this number comes down, leaving very few buses plying on just a dozen-odd routes. People are left with no choice but to choose options such as chartered buses.
“There are a number of buses that are functional on routes that are linked to railway stations and bus terminals. It is not possible to run buses on all routes. However, our buses are much safer compared to the contract carriage vehicles because our employees such as driver and conductors are verified and we take stern action against those found violating any rules,” said a senior Delhi government official.
There are approximately 4,000 contract carriage buses which have a permit to ferry passengers to and from fixed destinations, but in violation of the norms they pick travellers all along the route.
“They are not supposed to function as normal buses but most of the time they operate on long routes and people also end up using them. We will issue an advertisement to raise awareness among the people that such buses are not allowed to pick passengers from all points,” added an official.
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has assured that CCTVs will be installed inside DTC buses.
While a proposal to this effect was made nearly a year ago, the transport department is yet to make any progress in this regard.
“This issue was raised earlier as well and we hope this time we will ensure cameras are installed inside the buses. The step will help make women passengers feel safe and will also prove vital in curbing crime and anti-social behaviour as it will at least act as a deterrent,” said Kiran Walia, minister of women and child development department.
People in then national Capital are of the view that they have no option but to rely on alternative modes of transport since even the Metro does not run after 11 pm and very few DTC buses ply during late hours. Auto-rickshaws either overcharge or simply refuse to go on routes, which they think are not ‘beneficial’.
“We have always felt that buses are safer than auto-rickshaws and private taxis because there are more people inside them. But now we will have to think twice before boarding a bus at night,” said Kritika Ray, a resident of Sarita Vihar.