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Next BEST thing: Women drivers for buses

By Shrinivas Deshpande
PUBLISHED ON JAN 29, 2020 11:54 PM IST

The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) has decided to hire women drivers for the electric buses it plans to purchase in around six months.

The BEST committee, which governs the transport and electricity distribution undertaking of the civic body, on Wednesday gave its approval to a proposal to procure 300 new electric buses for the city and hire women drivers to run some of these buses as per a Central policy.

As of now, women drive suburban trains, Metros, autorickshaws as well as taxis in Mumbai. Only BEST buses do not have women drivers, though the state transport corporation, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has women drivers for some ST buses.

BEST had earlier decided to induct a total of 450 e-buses, of which, the transport body has already procured 34 vehicles for its fleet. Now, it will procure 300 buses on a wet-lease basis, under which vehicles, along with the drivers, will be hired from private contractors. “Under the Centre’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) policy guidelines, we have to give preference to women drivers to run these 300 electric buses,” said a BEST official.

The women recruits will be the first in BEST’s history to get behind the wheel of the undertaking’s public buses. As a part of its women’s empowerment programme last year, BEST had hired six women conductors, but they were shifted to different departments on their own request. As per the transport body, buses with women drivers are likely to hit Mumbai roads within the next six months. MSRTC has conducted driver training for almost 10,000 women in Pune and recruited 163 women drivers in August 2019.

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