Bhubaneswar, March 8: The state transport department has made the day special for women as they rolled out a gift on four wheels .
The department today launched a special bus service for women of the twin cities. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik flagged off the service to mark International Women’s Day.
The service will consist of one bus each, originating from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The buses will have lady conductors and assistants, but male drivers.
The Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) will manage the 40-seater buses.
The bus originating from Barmunda will cover AG Square, Master Canteen, Vani Vihar Square, Nakhara, Badambadi and high court. The one taking off from Cuttack will also ply on the same route.
The buses will start service at 8.15am and end at 6.30pm. Sources in the OSRTC said both buses would ply eight times a day.
“The buses will be of help to women who find it difficult to get public transport in the twin cities during peak hours. The journey will be economical as well,” said a senior OSRTC official.
The state government plans to introduce more such special buses in the twin cities. “We will see the response towards these special buses and if it is satisfactory, we can press more such buses into action,” said state commerce and transport minister Subrat Tarai.
The transport department also plans to introduce a monthly pass for passengers.
“This is a welcome move, as women can travel safely in the special buses. Violence against women is on the rise and such initiatives are helpful,” said Rajlaxmi Moharana, a passenger.
Though the passengers expressed satisfaction over the introduction of the buses, they said they would like the transport department to ensure reservation in general buses plying between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar as well.
“The government did a good thing by introducing this service. But the buses will not be enough to meet the demand of women passengers. Most of the times we are forced to stand in vehicles as the reserved seats are occupied by men,” said Suchismita Behera, a student of Ravenshaw University.
Sources in the regional transport office in Bhubaneswar said that according to rules, 30 per cent of seats are meant to be reserved for women. They said the violation was because of low penalty.
“Rules say we can impose a penalty of Rs 100 for violating the norm. But the low penalty makes vehicles flout the norm of having 30 per cent seats reserved for women,” said a senior transport official.
However, transport minister Tarai said the department would take stringent action against violators.