HYDERABAD: Telangana Road Transport Corporation’s attempt to make city buses safer for its female commuters by segregating the sections for men and women with sliding doors, doesn’t seem to have produced the desired result.
Six months after what was seen as a major revamp by the State Transport Corporation, the move has done little to deter men from entering women’s section, occupying seats reserved “for ladies” and boarding and alighting from the front door.
Denizens in general and women commuters in particular who had breathed a sigh of relief over the initiative, feel not much has changed.
Shakeba Hashmat a degree student who commutes from Kukatpally to Mehdipatnam feels it is the attitude of men that needs to change. “Men continue to board buses from the front door and occupy seats reserved for women, till someone asks them to vacate it. Pushing and shoving continues to be a norm in buses. No initiative will work till men realise the distinction between right and wrong,” she says.
Woman commuting in buses late night continue to feel unsafe despite the segregation. Anita Kumari, a media professional who often has to take bus past 9 pm says she regularly has to deal with drunken men who refuse to get up from reserved seats or try to fall on other women on purpose. “I was so relieved when the initiative was launched but it was short lived. Men when asked to vacate seats do so grudgingly and then stand close and ogle at us. The situation at night is worse when a lot of them are drunk,” she rues.
Bus drivers and conductors too complain that each time they don’t allow a male passenger to use the front door or ask them to vacate seats for females, men nag or make all sorts for excuses. “Men know they are not supposed to use the front door or sit on reserved seats but nothing deters them. Some make excuses that they have medical issues and hence should be allowed to sit and a lot of them even feign to sleep as soon as they see female passengers boarding the bus. We have to shout at them,” says Chandar a conductor of a bus on Bachupally to Mehdipatman route.
Though as many as 2,700 buses of the Corporation have the sliding doors, it is restricted only to ordinary buses. When the initiative was launched last October, it was said that eventually all buses would be incorporated with the doors. Six months later, the proposal still continues to be on paper. “To say that overcrowding happens only in ordinary buses, is not right; the situation is equally bad in metro and express buses,” rues K Durga, a government school teacher who boards bus at Ratifile to get to school in Ameerpet.
The complaints might be many, TSRTC officials however, claim that not a single complaint has been lodged. “Men sitting on women’s seat was a problem that has been solved with the installation of the sliding doors. We have not received any complaints either so I don’t think female commuters are facing any problem. As for the usage of front door is concerned, besides women only physically challenged and senior citizens are allowed and seats for them are also specifically earmarked.,” says an official on the condition of anonymity.
When quizzed about when other buses in the fleet will get the sliding door, the official said since express buses have middle doors, incorporating a sliding door might not happen. “However, we are doing a trial and whether it happens or not, cant be said now,” he said.
The official urged women commuters to call on 18002004599 to register their complaints. They must, however, give the bus number, depot name and time when incident occurred.