As Ghaziabad women welcome pink autorickshaws -- vehicles with pink hoods to exclusively ferry women -- the service has few takers in Gurgaon.
Defunct GPS systems, non-functioning prepaid booths at metro stations and fleecing by drivers are hurdles to the women exclusive transport becoming a popular commuting option.
The service was first launched in 2010 by the city police but discontinued and relaunched a number of times later. Currently, over 61 pink autorickshaws operate from the two metro stations -- Huda City Centre and MG Road. But they are not the first choice of women due to safety concerns.
“I once boarded a pink autorickshaw from MG Road metro station. It was late night and the driver took me via a longer and dark route. He charged Rs 10 more than the fare amount claiming that it was a ‘late night’ charge,” said Sweta Malhotra, a daily commuter.
The prepaid booths at metro stations are generally closed. In case the booths are open, there are not enough computers or staff to quickly issue tickets to the women queuing up.
Maitri Sharma, an IT professional, said, “I daily take an autorickshaw from Huda City Centre metro station. When the pink auto service was relaunched in 2015, I decided to try it out. The queue had just 10 people and I still had to wait for 30 minutes to get an auto. Even men were standing in the queue and getting tickets to travel in women exclusive autos.”
The pink autorickshaw drivers said their income is considerably lower than those driving yellow rickshaws as passengers prefer hiring the easily available yellow ones.
Swades Kumar, a pink autorickshaw driver at MG Road, said, “There are days we get only five or six women passengers a day. We have no option but to ferry male passengers. The police should take initiatives to popularise a mode of transport introduced by them.”
The police refuted the claims and said the pink autos are being increasingly chosen by women passengers, especially lone travellers.
“It took some time for the autorickshaws to gain popularity but the women are increasingly opting for women exclusive services. Around 35 rickshaws operate at MG road metro station and 26 at the Huda city centre,” said ACP Hawa Singh.