New Delhi, June 3 : Soon after the Delhi government on Monday announced its plan to allow women to travel for free in Delhi Metro, DTC buses and cluster buses in the national capital within the next three months, women here hailed the proposal but questioned the government over their security.
"Women can avail free rides on all DTC buses, cluster buses and Delhi Metro. The plan is to encourage women to use public transport, which is considered the safest mode of commuting," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told the media. The scheme would be subsidised by the Delhi government, he added.
Srishti Singh, a 22-year-old Delhi University student, said the government should rather use the money on planning new ways to enhance women's security.
"The moment you make something free, people start acting differently. The government may say that those who can afford should buy tickets, but everyone will go for the free option. Public transport facilities -- both the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Delhi Metro -- are anyways overloaded. The proposed move to make them free for women will put more burden on them," she said.
The overcrowded metro coaches and buses are like open invitation to the harassers, she added.
"There are no GPS or real time tracking of DTC buses. The metro covers most of the areas, but it does not provide door-to-door transport. We eventually have to take a bus or an auto. The government should plan to make these modes of transportation safer," Singh added.
For 40-year-old Sandhya Shukla, the free part does not make much of a difference.
"I know the Delhi government would say that the police are not under them, but did it look for innovative ideas for women's safety? Those stepping out for study or work can afford to pay a little amount for public transport," she said.
Shukla also said that women were not demanding free travel, but security.
"Only a handful of buses have GPS or female conductors. Why can't all the buses have women as conductors? This would at least give a sense of security to those travelling at odd hours. This is just one suggestion. They have their own teams which can look at more such ideas. But sadly all the political parties are the same and want an easy way out," she said.
A 32-year-old woman employee of the Delhi Secretariat, who did not wish to be named, said that no one was talking about women's safety.
"It is not about the cost of travel, but safety which should be looked upon. Rich or poor, women's safety in public transports is a cause of concern. This step will help those who find it difficult to pay for these transports. But who is talking about their safety," she asked.
According to Kejriwal, women who can afford the ride can buy the ticket. "We would encourage them to do so, so that the subsidy can be provided to others," he told the media.
The optional subsidy scheme is likely to cost the Delhi government about Rs 700-800 crore for the remaining part of the ongoing financial year.