The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt mulls only-women buses

Jan. 21: Dispur is planning to introduce only-women buses in the city and make other modes of public transport women-friendly.

A source in the state transport department said it was planning to introduce a few buses belonging to the ASTC exclusively for women commuters and gradually press private bus operators to go for similar initiatives to ensure that women passengers do not face problems.

“As hundreds of women use public transport to go to colleges, offices and other jobs, we want to make sure that they do not face problems during their journey. We are planning to introduce some ASTC buses initially for women and discussions are on regarding how to ensure safety of women passengers who board private buses, trekkers, taxis and auto-rickshaws,” a source in the department said.

The move comes following countrywide security concern for women passengers using public transport, including buses, after the recent New Delhi gang rape.

The Assam State Women’s Commission had moved transport minister Chandan Brahma seeking introduction of only-women buses and take steps to make other modes of transport women-friendly, particularly in the city. NGOs dealing with women’s rights such as North East Network, too, appealed for steps to ensure safety of women using public transport.

“We appreciate the demands raised by different organisations and we are making detailed discussions on how to improve the entire transport system. We want to ensure safety of women on our buses, private taxis and trekkers and for that there is a need for cooperation from private operators too,” the source said.

“In Guwahati, there is a need for only-women buses particularly during the evening hours and we will hold meetings with private operators running buses and trekkers in this regard. Already half of the seats in a bus are reserved for women, but we need to improve the facilities further,” the source said.

Sources also said the department would emphasise on the issue pertaining to women’s safety while taking up its future projects across the state.

Chandana Daimary, a young girl, who often uses city buses, welcomed the transport department’s plan but she wanted that similar directives should also be issued to private bus operators and those running trekkers in the city.

There are only 200 city buses run by the ASTC and commuters mostly have to depend on more than a thousand private buses whose drivers are often found flouting traffic norms.

Recently, a woman lodged an FIR with Basistha police station after the handyman of a trekker allegedly molested her. Police arrested the driver and the handyman. Women passengers using buses often complain that they face similar problems, particularly during evening hours.