In the wake of the horrific incident in Moga in which a 14-year-old girl was allegedly molested and thrown out of a moving bus, a Hindustan Times team conducted a reality check of measures undertaken to ensure women’s safety in public transport vehicles, both government and privately run, in the city.
A visit to the two interstate bus terminals in Sector 17 and 43 found most buses of PEPSU Road Transport Corp (PRTC) and Haryana Roadways were not following mandatory guidelines on passenger safety. None of the buses had CCTV cameras nor was the name and photo of the driver posted inside buses. Many private operators were routinely engaged in overloading their buses with passengers.
Though some of the privately run buses had a GPS navigation system installed in them most Punjab and Haryana Roadways buses did not. However, a few of the Volvo buses operated by the latter were equipped with GPS.
Gurminder Singh, a Haryana Roadways bus driver, said: “As of now our buses don’t have GPS. However, new buses being inducted into the fleet will be equipped with the system.”
A cursory look showed though the windowpanes of most private buses from Punjab were not tinted visibility was not clear due to shading at the top and the bottom of the panes.
A visit to the bus terminals in the evening revealed female cops were not travelling in buses plying after sunset in accordance with the Verma commission recommendations.
When questioned most bus drivers and conductors were woefully unaware of any passenger safety guidelines. They said they had no idea bus operators were supposed to ensure the name, age and address of the bus driver along with his mugshot as well as emergency helpline numbers were supposed to posted in every bus, whether state or privately run.
Also, drivers of both government and private buses were not carrying any identity card certified by the police.