DTC: Cannot allow ticket-free travel, will issue free cards to women

DTC: Cannot allow ticket-free travel, will issue free cards to women: Last Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that the Delhi government had proposed free rides for women on the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, as well as the Delhi Metro. The Delhi government has asked both DTC and DMRC to submit their proposal on rolling out the scheme. While the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) however, had not submitted its report till late on Monday, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) submitted the same on Monday.

In their proposal, the DTC has conveyed to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi that instead of allowing ticket-free travel to women in its buses, the corporation will issue special annual passes or gender-based common mobility cards free of charge.

While submitting its report, on implementing Delhi government’s proposal to allow free travel for women in the Metro and buses, the DTC said on Monday that it would require an annual subsidy amount of about Rs200 crore to roll out the scheme in its buses, apart from another Rs100 crore that would be incurred on the cluster (orange-coloured) buses, which are operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System Ltd.

The DTC officials said that the corporation has cited legal provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act to explain that no passenger can be allowed to travel without a ticket in state-run buses.

An official of the transport corporation, not authorised to speak to the media, said, “Ticket-free travel is ruled out not only because it will affect the ridership data, but also because the law does not allow it in state carriage buses. Besides, it would also result in pilferage where the conductor could easily fudge actual ridership by exaggerating the number of women availing free rides as the scheme is voluntary. Issuing passes and mobility cards will help us keep a tab on the ridership.”

Another DTC official said that like the Metro, the corporation will also have to open more bus pass counters and start a registration drive for women passengers to create a fresh gender-based database for the scheme.

The DTC has stated that the ridership of women in the state-run buses is 31%-32%.

Meanwhile, bound by the flurry of feedback from stakeholders on the free-travel scheme, the Dialogue and Development Commission for Delhi (DDCD), extended the deadline to seek feedback to June 30, on Monday.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said “The transport commissioner has started drafting a cabinet note. Though a cabinet meeting is scheduled sometime this week, it is difficult to say whether the department will be able to put all things together by then as we are still waiting for reports from a few stakeholders.”

DDCD vice-chairperson Jasmine Shah said the government has, so far, received 3,800 emails from people across the globe. “The response is quite good. We have made a special team at the DDCD for analysing all the suggestions and objections received. The workable ideas will definitely be incorporated. We are extending the deadline to June 30,” he said.

While implementing the scheme is easier in public buses, the government has chalked out an initial plan for rolling it out in the Metro. As a short-term measure, the Metro plans to give pink tokens to women commuters. The suggested long-term measures include creating new entry-exit AFC gates, holding a registration drive for women passengers and handing out pink smartcards to them.

While the Delhi government and the Centre are 50:50 equity partners in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, it would be interesting to see what DMRC will mention in their proposal.