A woman operates an auto-rickshaw near Kadru More in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Six new three-wheelers “for and by women” will be launched by this month-end, bringing up the number of pink autos to 12 in the capital.
Three months into its launch, six pink autos with women drivers are running smoothly in the city, doing away with initial hiccups of permits, licences and unruly behaviour from male drivers .
Encouraged by changing attitudes, traffic department, which conceptualised the scheme, and auto outfit Jharkhand Pradesh Diesel Auto Chalak Mahasangh, who implemented its first phase, are in the process of rolling out another six-member fleet.
Under the scheme, the outfit procures vehicles, trains lady drivers and works out their bank loans and road permits.
As in phase one, Jharkhand Gramin Bank will give lady drivers in the second lot bank loans, which they will pay in installments from earnings.
“We hope we get the vehicles in a week,” auto outfit president Dinesh Soni told The Telegraph. “We have trained about 12 drivers and are in the process of getting their licences issued.”
Last September, traffic department mooted the idea of pink autos to offer women and children a safe ride. Delay being in the state’s DNA, the project saw the light of day this February with six autos. In a week, the autos vanished thanks to paperwork glitches. Traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan and district transport department streamlined the system by March.
Auto outfit president Soni dubbed initial hassles as normal. “The traffic department has been very helpful. Today all lady drivers and their vehicles are operating with full compliance to rules,” he said.
Lady drivers, who start in the morning and wrap up by 8pm, run on routes such as Argora-Ratu Road, Main Road-Kokar and Main Road-Bariatu. At least two pink autos pick passengers — women and children — on what they call free routes, that is, from anywhere.
If a woman is with her husband, he is allowed to hop in, but “it’s rare and we like it to be so”, smiled a lady driver.