The state government has announced that a bus service exclusively for women commuters, christened ‘Tejaswini’, will start soon in several cities including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Dombivli, Pune, and Nagpur.
The service will be run by the public sector transport undertakings and 300 buses will be used across the state.
“While commuting to their work places or in routine life, my dear sisters use bus transportation. During their journey, they have to face many problems and this is a matter of concern. To ease their travelling, a financial assistance of Rs50 crore will be provided,” state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, said in his budget speech on Friday.
In Mumbai, BEST will operate the service, a move that has been welcomed by the undertaking. The BEST already runs women-only buses on many routes in the city. However, the State’s announcement that it will pay for new buses has enthused BEST authorities.
“We will be happy to introduce more ladies special buses,” said Jagdish Patil, general manager of BEST. He, however, added that there was no clarity yet on just how many of the 300 buses Mumbai would get.
According to BEST officials currently they run 74 trips of ladies special buses and 60 trips of ‘ladies first’ buses, in which women commuters get first preference for boarding at the point of origin.
BEST officials said they were not sure how many women would use these during non-peak hours and, hence, we might want to ply these as regular services during those hours.
Women commuters have welcomed the decision. “It really difficult for women to travel on crowded buses. They have to go through various kinds of experiences. If ladies special buses are introduced, it will be big relief for working women,” said Sucheta Kadam, an executive, who travels on different bus routes.
In another women-friendly measure, Mungantiwar also announced that 400 toilets would be built on state highways, one every 100 km.