Rules eased to allow more women bus drivers in city

Published on Feb 12, 2022 06:28 AM IST

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said he has proposed special allocation of funds to offer subsidies for women to train as bus drivers in the upcoming Delhi Budget 2022-23.

DTC hired its first woman driver, V Saritha, in April 2015 with announcements to hire more. Seven years later, she remains its sole woman driver. (Hindustan Times)
DTC hired its first woman driver, V Saritha, in April 2015 with announcements to hire more. Seven years later, she remains its sole woman driver. (Hindustan Times)
By, New Delhi

In a first, the Delhi government on Friday decided to relax the norms to recruit female drivers for its 6,900-strong bus fleet in the city, including reducing the minimum height needed from 159cm to 153cm and cutting the “experience criteria” to a month for women applicants.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said he has proposed special allocation of funds to offer subsidies for women to train as bus drivers in the upcoming Delhi Budget 2022-23.

Currently, Delhi has a combined fleet strength of 6,900 buses in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS). There are at least 15,000 drivers to run these buses in the city, of which only one is a woman. Venkadarath Saritha, became the first woman to be enrolled as a DTC bus driver in April 2015.

On August 10 last year, HT first reported how even after six years since her recruitment, Delhi has been unable to enrol any more women in its work force. The primary problem, HT reported, was that the eligibility criteria for the job was drafted decades ago assuming only men would apply.

Among the criteria were conditions like possessing a heavy motor vehicle (HMV) driving licence for at least three years; a minimum height of 162cm (later reduced to 159cm).

“Basing the HT report last year, I convened a series of meeting over the past six months. In a historic decision, we have issued an order reducing the minimum height requirement for female drivers to 153cm. I have also directed the commissioner of transport to consider female candidates with even about a month’s demonstrated experience in driving our buses for the role. Their assessment may also be done based on the kilometres driven by them. The Delhi government is going to provide a training platform to women at our Burari Centre where they can hone their skills using our DTC and cluster buses. At the end of this, they may undergo another round of testing after which, they may be engaged as drivers in our buses if found fit,” Gahlot said.

The minister said he has also proposed incentives in the form of subsidies to be offered to women who opt to take the bus driver training course at the centre. “This may also be included in the Budget speech by Delhi finance minister Manish Sisodia,” he said.

Amrita Gupta, director-research advocacy and communications at Azad Foundation, which also trained and helped induct Saritha in 2015, said getting an HMV license is a resource-intensive process. “We have had several meetings with the transport minister over the past few months and have another one scheduled next week too to iron out the final criteria. The Delhi government announced free bus rides for all women, but was ignoring the fact that they are hardly in the scene when it comes to operating the same buses. It’s great the Delhi government is finally moving towards this,” she said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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