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City bus a nightmare for women

A recent problem in evidence is that city buses are developing snags midway, leading to their being short-terminated

By Raj Kumar in Ranchi

  • Published 19.11.19, 2:06 AM
  • Updated 19.11.19, 2:06 AM
Passengers board a city bus at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi on Monday.
Passengers board a city bus at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Manob Chowdhary

Launched with much fanfare on September 1, the city bus service in the state capital is yet to become woman-friendly.

Of the 20 buses running between Kutchery to Rajendra Chowk, a 4.2km stretch packed with offices, shopping establishments and educational institutions, only two buses are meant exclusively for women. The rest of the buses are so crowded that women can’t reach their seats in a dignified way.

The rush is more in peak hours because e-rickshaws are off roads. The only other option on the stretch is hiring a cycle rickshaw, which is both costly and time-taking.

A woman office-goer who uses the city bus every day told this paper that the vehicles are crowded with men right from the entrance.

“In a 32-seater bus, there are 60-70 people, most people are standing, so what can you expect?” she asked. “Sometimes men grope us but there is no cheaper means of conveyance. So we tolerate it. I request the civic body to run more women’s special buses,” the woman added.

Another woman, Sudipta Majumdar of Burdwan Compound, said that women had to board buses on the stretch to reach collectorate offices at Kutchery, other big and small private offices, shopping hubs such as Daily Market, Roshpa Tower, GEL Church Complex, Big Bazaar, St Xavier’s College, St Anne’s Girls’ High School, among others.

“Shoppers have the luxury of planning their trips. Office-goers and students can’t. For them, commute is a daily feature of life, and so is the hassle with such limited options between Rajendra Chowk to Kutchery Chowk. Nothing runs except the bus and cycle rickshaw,” Majumdar said. “And unlike men, very few women ride bikes or scooters. More women’s-only buses will be a boon,” she added.

Another lady, who did not wish to be identified, echoed Majumdar. “Yes, we need women’s only buses. It’s not just the crowds, many men just can’t behave properly on public transport. If middle-aged women like us feel uncomfortable with such men around, you can imagine how teenagers and young women feel. Even the general buses have ladies’ reserved seats. But how do you reach them?”

Another recent problem in evidence is that city buses are developing snags midway, leading to their being short-terminated.

“Today (on Monday), a bus did not go beyond Albert Ekka Chowk,” Majumdar said. “Yesterday (on Sunday), passengers pushed a bus a little after Sujata Chowk,” added Sujit Munda, a fruit vendor.

Assistant municipal commissioner of Ranchi Municipal Corporation Jyoti Kumar Singh, however, insisted all was well.

“Of the 20 city buses, if there are one or two instances of snags, one should not make it an issue. As far as women and girls feeling uncomfortable in buses, let me tell you that no woman has so far come forward with any complaint,” Singh said.

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