Women feel safer on Rapid Metro than any other transport
While most male commuters I interacted with used words like ‘comfortable’ and ‘convenient’ to describe their experience of travelling on the Rapid Metro, women tended to use the word ‘safe’ instead.Updated: Sep 15, 2019 02:53 IST
Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon ambling about the Rapid Metro, speaking to commuters and trying to get a sense of just how important the service is to them. With operations having reached the brink of shutdown earlier this month, it was surprising to note that many commuters were unaware of the ongoing tussle between the operator, IL&FS, and the Haryana government. Those who did know, however, were vociferous in their defence of the still privately operated Metro line, especially women.
While most male commuters I interacted with used words like ‘comfortable’ and ‘convenient’ to describe their experience of travelling on the Rapid Metro, women tended to use the word ‘safe’ instead. It was evident that the Metro provided them a certain sense of ease and security, which private cabs and auto-rickshaws did not, particularly during later hours at night.
Hemanshi Joshi, who lives in Delhi and works at CyberHub, said, “It’s a little more expensive, but I feel better taking the Rapid Metro. Haggling with auto drivers over the fare is frustrating, and as a woman, I don’t feel safe sharing autos with unknown men after dark. I am also worried about auto drivers being inebriated at night, as it has happened before and was not a pleasant experience. On the Rapid Metro, I simply get on and switch over at Sikanderpur to take the Yellow Line without having to interact with anyone.”
While no readily available data disaggregates the Rapid Metro’s ridership by gender, a quick glance in person will reveal that there is a large number of women who avail of the service. Many of the women I spoke to iterated similar versions of Joshi’s story. One of them, who did not provide her name, said, “Earlier, my company would provide cab service to women at night but that has been stopped. Since then, I have started taking the Rapid Metro, as it is well lit, with security guards. I don’t want to be waiting on the streets for a rickshaw after 10pm. My office is in an area where public transport simply isn’t available after 8pm, and cabs are expensive, so the Metro is my only option. It would be a shame if the Haryana government can’t keep running the service.”
These testimonies are symptomatic of the larger safety issue surrounding women and public transport in Gurugram. Given the relatively nascent stage of the GMCBL bus service, and that the majority of the city is not covered by mass transit, many women do not feel safe travelling around the city at all. The Rapid Metro, I realised, is one of the few modes of intracity transport that allow women the peace of mind that men take for granted.
“For me, it’s not so much about safety as being able to beat traffic and sitting in the air conditioning,” Ankur Dixit, a daily user of Rapid Metro who also works near CyberHub, said. When asked if the Rapid Metro shutting down would impact his life, Dixit said it would not be ideal, but that shared autos were always an option. Women, on the other hand, were much more fearful of this prospect.