Renu Arya (25), an engineer from Ghaziabad, is one of the several women conductors on the Anand Vihar -Lucknow women-only pink buses who work hard to ensure that passengers reach their destinations comfortably and safe.
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) started the Pink Express in February last year to provide women with a safer travel option. Though men drive these buses, women conductors manage them. The bus has an online GPS tracking facility, CCTV cameras and guards who sit in the driver’s cabin.
It has been more than a year since the service was launched and thanks to the hard work and professional attitude of its five women conductors, the buses have been running smoothly.
Due to the efficient service and skills displayed by these conductors, the occupancy rate of the buses has gone up to an average of 65% over the year, said PK Bose, regional manager, UPSRTC Ghaziabad.
Of these passengers, 90% are women who are travelling alone, he said.
The buses run between Anand Vihar and Lucknow every day. They start at 7pm from both points and reach their destinations the next morning.
For these women conductors, work starts around 3pm. This is the time when they reach the depot to prepare the buses. Once they are done with the preparations, they don their uniforms for the journey.
“It is team work. It is because of the efficient handling of passengers by the staff that the service is running smoothly. Before this bus service came, we used to see only men work as conductors. When I joined the service, I thought that the work will be challenging and we will have to face many problems. If women can work for the police, why cannot they do this job?” Arya said.
“Women passengers feel comfortable when there are women conductors. We do face some issues sometimes, but a polite behaviour calms passengers,” she said.
“Initially, my family members were against my decision to work as a conductor as the job involved staying out of the city for two days and also the responsibility to make sure that the bus and the passengers reach the destination safe. But it is team work with others on board, including the male staff members,” she said.
“It is a sense of pride that women have taken up the responsibility of taking women on a journey of nearly 475 km. We have to handle all kinds of behaviour and be prepared for breakdowns and other problems. We have to be cautious about the passengers’ safety,” said Ankita Chauhan, a post-graduation student who also works as a conductor.
Even the UPSRTC officials are all praise for the women team.
“Apart from the high occupancy that the bus service has attracted, we have not received a single complaint about the service. The male drivers and guards cooperate with them in all ways,” Bose said.