Women in the city who use public transport don’t have the benefit of a safe or a comfortable journey and are in desperate need of special exit doors in buses and more, better toilets at railway stations, a survey conducted by the World Bank has found.
The findings, presented by the World Bank as part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project II (MUTP II) with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), were put forward at a conference involving transport experts on Tuesday.
The study surveyed 231 women/girls and 121 men in the low-income category.
“There is no inclusion of what women need in the public transport in the national urban transport policy and also in the MUTP. There is a need at the policy level to include the sensitive issues,” said Chhavi Dhingra, the sustainable urban transport project officer from Delhi.
The survey found out that 80% of the women find it unsafe to board and alight trains and buses because of harassment, overcrowding and thefts. The report has suggested a special exit for women in buses and more number of women police personnel at railway stations to attend to the grievances.
The survey also pointed out that nearly 93% of the toilets at railway stations that are either closed or out of service are women’s toilets.
Based on the estimate that 25% of Mumbai’s daily train commuters are women, the railways provide only 1 toilet per 9,000 women, the report said, adding that this is highly inadequate and unhygienic.
Responding to these findings, George Eapen, senior divisional operations manager who represented the Central Railway at the conference, said: “We have issued tenders for the building of better toilets, but there have been very few takers.”
Eapen added that the most important demand made by women was for more women-only coaches or services, which he admitted was not possible at the moment. “But the railways are working on it,” he said.
World Bank officials said this is the first gender assessment study of the Mumbai public transport system and will provide the foundation for authorities when projects under the MUTP II are being implemented.
“This is a basic study. It will lead to a wider study with inclusion of more issues at a later stage,” said Satya Mishra, a World Bank official.
The MUTP II, aimed at improving the capacity of public transport in Mumbai metropolitan area, which includes laying new railway lines, adding new trains and more buses, is partly funded by the World Bank.