Until some time ago Delhi public transport was very unsafe for women. If you remember, after the Delhi gang rape it was a big issue and every news, media and politicians were only talking about Delhi public spaces being unsafe for women. There were a lot of promises made, a lot of public safety measures were planned and promised by the Delhi government, but nothing was implemented. Delhi Metro once featured one ad in their compartments mocking men for molesting women. In 2017, Times of India has published one article on this safety issue women face in public transports. One of the issues mentioned here is overcrowded buses and metro.
All of a sudden, before the Delhi assembly polls in 2020, Delhi public transport has become the safest mode of transport for women as the Delhi government plans to make Metro and Bus travel in Delhi free for women. The government says, with increased fares women need to take personal vehicles or walk the streets or take private transports and claim all of these are unsafe for women. Even though these points can be argued that these are equally dangerous and unsafe for men but let’s look at the financial aspects of it as the gender issue is well debated already.
Delhi government says they will reimburse Delhi Metro and DTC for their losses.
Let’s look at the present scenario of DTC buses before we proceed to other aspects of this.
In early June 2019, Delhi Govt. has released the outcome budget 2019-20 that showed the miserable condition of the company. In 2017-18 the company had 3974 buses and had a target to increase the fleet to 4176 buses by 2018-19. But it reduced to a fleet of 3897 buses only. The government that promises to compensate the company for their losses due to free rides to women, could not compensate the company to buy new buses that could improve the public transport condition for everyone including women. They are now promising something that is discriminating directly against 50% of the population, men, who need to use public transport more because they are still the primary breadwinners for their families.
The outcome budget also showed that the average daily ridership has surpassed the target despite ‘high fares’ as mentioned as one of the reasons to bring this free scheme. The average fleet utilization, however, has reduced, the operating cost per KM increased beyond the target, the earning per KM is less than the target, the earning per bus per day is also less than the target.
Now, let’s look at the number of marshals deployed in these buses. According to this report, the company failed to achieve a target of 4280 marshals in 2018-19 and only had 3041 available on duty. The government has also failed to install ANY CCTV cameras so far. So, a government that is talking about their concern for women safety by giving them freebies like free rides is completely fooling everyone as it failed in multiple parameters already set by them to really look into the issue positively in order to resolve the same without creating a public gimmick.
According to the 2018-19 outcome budget, the Average daily ridership of DTC has overshot the target. The target was 32.93 lakh average daily commuters, but they achieved 33 lakh commuters.
So, this clearly shows that people are not having a problem in paying the increased fares as told by the Delhi Govt.
If you look at any of the above parameters that the government has failed to deliver, you will understand this point. For example, by not able to meet the number of buses plying on the Delhi roads, the government has failed to ensure the right availability or frequency of busses causing a problem to every commuter. In 2018-19, they fell short of 279 buses from their target. While the number of commuters has increased this shortfall only added to the pain of everyone.
Average fleet utilization was targeted at 87% for 2018-19, but DTC could achieve only 84.6%. Here as well when the buses were available, those busses might not be in a condition to run. Resulting in further less availability of buses.
Delhi Govt. the target of operating cost per KM was Rs. 88 for 2018-19 but they achieved Rs. 97.12 which was about 10% higher. This in spite of the fact that there was an increase in passengers using buses. So, DTC was incurring a loss even when everyone including women has paid full fares and the Delhi Govt. didn’t subsidize DTC for this or tried to encourage them to increase their fleet.
Similarly, we see that Earning per bus per day also didn’t achieve the target of Rs. 5931 and could achieve only Rs. 5898.
The claim that the Delhi government has taken this decision purely for women safety concerns and it was not a scheme to lure voters for election is also a big lie. Because they have already failed big on two important aspects of women safety that they promised earlier or are bound by law to implement.
One was on deploying Marshals in the busses. According to this report, DTC had only 3041 marshals available in 2018-19 compared to a target of 4280. Similarly, they couldn’t install any CCTV in buses so far.
So, from the above discussion we understand the following –
- Even though the government claims that people are not able to afford the higher fees, it is not true. The increase in average daily ridership beyond target proves that wrong.
- Government concern for women safety seems to be fake as they have already failed to deliver on other important safety measures promised earlier.
- By not able to make buses available to people, the government has already failed in providing adequate service to everyone.
- Government has miserably failed in two important aspects of having marshals and installing CCTV cameras and shows they are not serious about women safety as they want to show. The free ride to women is only an election sweepstake for them.
So, you know that the AAP government in Delhi is taking everyone including women for a ride. They are treating women as beggars or as parasites. Maybe AAP is treating Delhi women as fools who do not understand these and only expect freebies. But this politics will only cost DTC dearly as they are already not achieving targets and the government is also not reimbursing their losses. This increased burden on exchequer will come back to people in some way or the other. Many women may feel good today, but the consequences will be far-reaching and only the subsequent governments will suffer.