Pink tickets boost DTC women riders
- According to the DTC bus ridership data, between March 2021 and July 27, the state transport corporation recorded 2,014,650 ticketed journeys, of which 1,543,986 were pink tickets issued to women passengers.
At least 76% of over two million bus journeys clocked in the past five months in the national capital were using “pink tickets”, a Delhi government initiative which allows women to travel for free in public buses, data accessed by HT from the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) showed.
According to the DTC bus ridership data, between March 2021 and July 27, the state transport corporation recorded 2,014,650 ticketed journeys, of which 1,543,986 were pink tickets issued to women passengers.
Of the remaining, 446,110 were general tickets, which DTC officials said are issued to men and in rare cases to women if they voluntarily insist on paying for the bus fare. Further, 24,554 persons were ticketed through bus passes.
Similar data for the cluster buses was not available at the time of filing this report.
At 80%, the share of women passengers was high even in March when there was no strict lockdown as the fourth wave of the pandemic had not started in Delhi and buses were running with 100% seating capacity.
In July, when the wave ebbed and the Delhi government relaxed public transport norms to allow more passengers to travel in buses or the Metro, the share of women passengers continued to be as high as 68.94%.
Delhi has a total of 6,750 public transport buses of which 3,760 are operated by the DTC and 2,990 are run by private operators through the transport department under the cluster scheme.
Rambha Devi, a domestic help who regularly travels from Trilokpuri to her employer’s house in Mayur Vihar Phase 3, said the free travel has helped her immensely.
“I save anywhere between ₹260-400 per month on transport and it has helped me move more freely. Also, now I see more women passengers around me in these buses so they feel safer than before. I hope someday the Metro also gives us free rides. At present, it is not affordable,” said Devi, who has five children with her husband, a mason.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director and in-charge of research and advocacy at Centre for Science and Environment, said “gender sensitive transport initiatives are important to improve equity in mobility”.
“There is enough evidence today to show how lack of safe, affordable and accessible public transport systems can make women more vulnerable to crime and compromise their options of accessing jobs, education and health care. Sustaining this change with a longer term fiscal strategy is therefore important,” she said.
“While the Delhi government’s move has ensured an increased ridership of women in public transport, which is also a source of empowerment for them, it also means that the majority of the bus journeys have been offered for free to the people of Delhi. If we take the sample of the data of the last five months, as an example, then 76.63% of the total journeys during this period was not paid for by the passengers,” said R S Minhas, deputy chief general manager (public relations), DTC.
The decline in revenue through bus tickets, which is the primary source of income for the DTC, has burnt a hole in the transporter’s pocket.
Data shared by the corporation in the Delhi Assembly on Thursday and Friday showed that DTC has been running into losses of over ₹1,000 crore annually since 2015, even as it has been unable to add even a single new bus to its existing fleet.
To add to its woes, bus fares in Delhi -- starting from ₹5 and going up to ₹25 -- have not changed for more than a decade, unlike the Delhi Metro which have higher fares.
According to the data, DTC suffered losses of ₹1,019.36 crore in 2014-15; ₹1,250.15 crore in 2015-16; ₹1,381.78 crore in 2016-17; ₹1,730.02 crore in 2017-18; and ₹1,664.56 crore in 2018-19.
According to the interim estimates for 2019-20, the losses stood at ₹1,834.67 crore, the DTC said in its answers to questions raised by BJP MLA form Rohini Vijender Gupta in the Delhi Assembly.