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Buses, Metro may be free for women in Delhi

About 30 lakh passengers travel by Delhi Metro every day and, according to sources, the number of women commuters is slightly higher than 25%.

Updated: Jun 02, 2019, 11.59 AM IST
Delhi Metro
(This story originally appeared in on Jun 02, 2019)
NEW DELHI: In a radical move, a few months before assembly elections in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party government is planning to make travelling in buses and Metro free for women.

"The government is planning free travel for women in public transport and is going to bear the loss of revenue that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Delhi Transport Corporation and the cluster scheme buses would face due to this decision," said a Delhi government official. The official said that state transport minister Kailash Gahlot has held a meeting with senior officials of DMRC and asked them to submit a proposal on how they can facilitate free travel for women and what it would cost.

Tech hurdles to free metro ride for women
It is difficult at this point to exactly calculate the revenue loss this plan would entail as fresh surveys on the number of women commuters and trips would have to carried out,” said the official. Confirming this move, Gahlot told TOI that this was “being explored”.

About 30 lakh passengers travel by Delhi Metro every day and, according to sources, the number of women commuters is slightly higher than 25%. “More commuters use buses in Delhi compared to the Metro but the percentage of women travellers in buses is not more than 20%,” said a DTC official. The total number of commuters in buses is estimated to be about 42 lakhs.

The concept of free public transport is not unknown in other parts of the world. Luxembourg, for instance, is going to scrap fares for buses, trains and trams from 2020 as an environmental push and will be the first country in the world to do so. Germany is also considering making its public transport free to reduce pollution. Some European cities, such as Estonia’s capital Tallinn and Dunkirk in France, already provide free public transport.

The Delhi government official said it would not be very difficult to implement the decision in DTC and cluster buses since there are no technical issues involved. “However, providing free travel in Metro would need a technological solution,” he said. “At present, Delhi Metro doesn’t have any provision that would allow free or concessional passes to any user.”

DMRC refused to comment on the issue or confirm if any communication had been received from the Delhi government. Sources in the corporation, however, said that it would be difficult to allow free travel to any commuter as there is no such provision.

“The Centre has been asking DMRC to allow concession to senior citizens and students for nearly a year but we have been unable to implement it because the present technology doesn’t allow that. Keeping the technological challenges in mind, it would not be easy to allow free travel to a section of commuters through our existing Automatic Fare Collection gates,” said a DMRC official. “Also, allowing free travel would lead to a spurt in ridership and we are not sure if the system would be able to handle the additional pressure.”

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