DTC set to recruit 100 women drivers by April-end

ByAlok KN Mishra
Feb 07, 2023 11:43 PM IST

The shortlisted women are given training under the Delhi government’s ‘Mission Parivartan’ initiative launched in April 2022

The state government is likely to recruit at least 100 more women as Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus drivers by the end of April, officials aware of the matter said on Tuesday, as part of an ongoing plan to narrow a major gender divide that has plagued the city’s most popular mode of public transit for decades.

Anjali is among the 13 women drivers that were given the letter of appointment by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) last month. (HT Photo)
Anjali is among the 13 women drivers that were given the letter of appointment by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) last month. (HT Photo)

Official data shows that Delhi has just 34 women bus drivers, of whom 33were hired over the past couple of years. In comparison, about 15,000 men operate DTC buses.

The DTC fleet will get 8,000 new electric buses by 2025, with conditions in the tender document mandating that 20% of these be operated by women, said people aware of the matter. As a result, Delhi needs at least 1,600 women bus drivers in the next couple of years.

According to a DTC official, the corporation has invited applications from women up to the age of 50, to be hired on a yearly contract.

Each woman bus driver employed by DTC is paid around 8per kilometre, which amounts to between 700 and 900 per day, said a government official.

The government has extended the last date for submitting applications to April 30. The selected candidates will have to train for at least four months before they are allowed to drive a DTC bus.

The state government has made a host of efforts to close the fleet’s yawning gender gap over the past few years, with mixed results. Women who have joined the fleet said commuters were often taken by surprise when they see them behind the wheel. They, however, added that the experience has largely been pleasant.

Thirty-four-year-old Shabnam, who has been driving a DTC bus on the Anand Vihar to IGI Airport route for the last four months, said some passengers pass unpleasant comments at her, but many appreciate her job and treat her with respect.

“I wake up early, prepare food for my two children and report to work before 6.20am on six days a week. I complete four trips by 2.20pm. I do have to deal with some people who look askance at a woman driving a bus,” said Shabnam.

Despite the expansion of the Metro network, buses are still a popular mode of public transport in the Capital, with around 4.2 million people using the system every day. DTC alone ferries 3.3 million passengers a day. In comparison, Delhi’s Metro average daily ridership is 4.5 million. Currently, the Capital has around 7,200 buses under DTC and the cluster scheme. The state government aims to increase the strength of the fleet to 11,000, and to ensure that 70-75% of all public buses in Delhi are electric by 2025-26.

Pooja, 22, another woman who has been driving a DTC bus between Mubarakpur and Nehru Place for the last four months said that many passengers take selfies with her out of respect.

“My entire family supported me when I took up this job five months ago. Earlier, I used to drive a light motor vehicle for the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW),” she said.

Anjali, 31, who has also been driving a DTC bus from GT Karnal and back through south Delhi called her journey “challenging”.

“I have been driving a bus without any accident for the last four months. My family members were initially not happy, but now they are. We (women bus drivers) are still looked at like we do not belong to this place. Many people say that it is a man’s job, but many passengers and others appreciate and encourage us,” Anjali said.

An official said a woman who wants to become a bus driver has to train for a month on the driving track and in the classroom. She is then given a licence to drive heavy vehicles. After that, she is trained for three months under simulated traffic conditions at Nandnagri. If she clears the training, she is allowed to drive a bus on the Capital’s streets.

The shortlisted women are trained under the Delhi government’s Mission Parivartan, a programme to train women and help them obtain their heavy motor vehicle licences, launched in April 2022 by state transport minister Kailash Gahlot.

Gahlot said the Delhi government provides women willing to be trained as bus (or any other public transport vehicle such as a taxi) drivers with financial support.

“Women driving public buses serve as an example of women empowerment across the country. Delhi has been focused on empowering women who can take the lead in public transport. Women currently driving buses are fit for the job and they follow traffic rules better. Through the extension of the special recruitment drive for women drivers, we hope to ensure more participation of women in the city’s public transport fleet. It is likely to make the roads of Delhi safer and more passenger friendly,” said Gahlot.

The Delhi government has also relaxed the norms and eligibility criteria for the recruitment of women as bus drivers, officials said. The minimum height criterion has been reduced from 159cm to 153cm and the experience criterion is one month for women applicants as opposed to three months for men.

“This has increased opportunities for women’s employment across the around 7,379 buses in DTC and DIMTS. The move has also led to women being employed as part of the 15,000-strong workforce of bus drivers in the state’s public transportation,” said an official.

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