free rides


TW: Rape

Many questions have arisen regarding the free metro and bus rides for women proposed by the Delhi Government. Read further to know more about another side of this coin.

About 5 months ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government proposed a scheme providing free metro and bus ride for women in Delhi. On 26th August, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia presented a grant of Rs 290 crore in the Legislative Assembly during the monsoon session for this ‘free ride’ schemes. Out of Rs 290 crore, Rs 140 crores was allocated for DTC, and cluster buses and Rs 150 crore for Delhi metro.

“Public transport is considered the safest for women and keeping that in mind, the Government had decided that all buses and the metro rides will be made free for women,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said. He also added that those who are willing to pay for the tickets would be free to do so. There are many women who can afford these transports and must refrain from taking the subsidy. This is to ensure that those who genuinely require this scheme may best benefit from it.

However, both men and women have questioned the true intentions behind this scheme. Though the scheme may sound appealing to many women, it does bring about the debate on gender equality and the question as to where to draw the line. “With all due respect, women in Delhi didn’t ask for a free pass to ride when they voted for Kejriwal Ji, they had voted for the safe environment promised to them,” Priyanka Chaturvedi, a National Spokesperson, wrote on Twitter.

She further argued in another tweet saying, “Hate to remind this, but Nirbhaya was gang-raped in a bus in Delhi. At that time the country didn’t protest over free rides for the women but for making the capital safe for its women to be able to take a bus or metro at any time of the day. Get your priorities right!”

“What is worse, once concession is given to one section of commuters, immediate demands will arise from more deserving sections, such as students, the handicapped, and senior citizens. The disease will spread fast to all other metros in the country, making them dependent on state governments for subsidies,” E. Sreedhan, more commonly known as Metro Man, wrote in a letter to PM Narendra Modi, requesting not to agree to the proposal as it would set “an alarming precedence”.

“The argument of the Delhi government—that it will reimburse the revenue losses to the DMRC—is a poor solace. The amount involved is about Rs. 1,000 crore per annum today. This will go on increasing as the metro network expands and with further fare hikes,” Sreedharan added.

The scheme also faced a whole lot of criticism regarding issues like overcrowding and a probable drop in the quality of services due to the erosion of DMRC funds. Instead of cutting water and power bills, Kejriwal proposed free metro to women, out of whom may well be able to afford the already-cheap mode of transport. Instead of improving security infrastructure and uplifting women’s safety, the government appears to be offering unnecessary expenses to be added to the State List.

Despite the probable “good” intentions of the Delhi Government, free metro and bus rides for women doesn’t seem to be the most viable proposal in theory or in action.


Feature Image Credits: Hitesh Kalra for DU Beat

Aditi Gutgutia

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