NEW DELHI: Visibly surprised and delighted, the women who boarded Delhi Transport Corporation buses on Tuesday realised that henceforth bus rides have been made free for them by the Delhi government.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government launched the free bus rides in DTC and Cluster Scheme buses from Tuesday on the occasion of Bhai Dooj.
"It was a great feeling, when I was told this morning that I will not have to purchase any bus ticket henceforth. It has been made free for women by the Delhi government," said Radha, who travels more than 15 km daily from her home in Sangam Vihar.
"This is a big saving for me. I would be spending Rs 50 daily on bus travel, and this amount saved means a lot to me," Radha, who works as a domestic help in South Delhi, told IANS.
On boarding the bus in the morning, Radha was issued a pink coloured paper token by the bus conductor, and told that she need not pay any money. This was the case with all women who boarded DTC and cluster buses on Tuesday.
Many women were decked up in finery to visit their brothers to celebrate Bhai Dooj, and the free bus ride for them and their daughters and other female family members came as a blessing.
The AAP government has printed as many as 1.5 crore pink passes so far, with a message on women empowerment printed on them.
For Neha, a young cook who takes a bus from Tughlakabad to south Delhi every day, the free ride is a big boon. "I save a lot of money thanks to the free bus ride," she told IANS.
Another woman commuter, Latha, who travels from Karol Bagh to Green Park, said while she was happy with the decision, she wished there were more buses. "There should be more DTC buses. Due to scarcity of buses, many times I end up taking the Metro, which is more expensive," said Latha.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the free ride scheme for women on public buses might be extended to senior citizens and students too.
The free ride for women is one of the promises of the AAP government, ahead of the assembly polls in Delhi.
According to the plan, conductors will distribute pink tickets with a face value of Rs 10 each to women passengers for free travel. The government will reimburse the money to the transporters, based on the tickets issued.
There are around 3,700 DTC buses and 1,800 buses under the cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS).
Delhi CM Kejriwal tweeted: "The pink tickets are issued to every sister in Delhi from this brother on the occasion of Bhai Dooj with loads of best wishes for your safe, secure and prosperous future. When women are empowered, only then will the country progress."
Earlier, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, tweeting the notification of the free-ride scheme, said, "Historic day for Delhi !!! Females will travel free in all Buses from 29.10.19. Notification has been issued. Delhi Govt under dynamic leadership of CM @ArvindKejriwal stands committed to ensure safety and security of Female passengers in Buses."
According to Gahlot, 30 per cent of travellers in DTC and cluster buses are women.