HYDERABAD: Second-year engineering student Mounika heaved a sigh of relief after boarding an RTC bus at Rathifile bus depot here on Sunday as she found separate sections for male and female passengers in her bus.
The State Road Transport Corporation has partitioned the sections in eight ordinary city buses, to start with, with mesh and a sliding door after four rows of seats for women. With this, sections allotted for both genders are visibly segregated, aiming to put an end to harassment faced by women. In September, glass panes without sliding door were tried by the corporation. Much to the chagrin of women travelling on buses, men of all ages, including drunkards, move into women’s section, sometimes fall on them and occupy seats reserved for women. Hence the experiment. Women commuters, while welcoming the steps, suggested that a helpline phone number be displayed in buses for lodging complaints in case of harassment.
“Earlier, we did not know what to do when men harassed us in buses. The mesh partition will be of great help,” said Mounika. Bus conductors are also relieved, hoping that the mesh partition will put an end to quarrels picked by drunkards and other passengers. “Men entering the space allotted for women in buses and picking arguments is an everyday nuisance we come across. And when we defend women, they keep swearing at us till the time they get down. This separation will avert all those problems,” said P Malleshwari, a conductor. “Even if there is room in men’s section, some middle-aged men intentionally stand beside women’s seats and ogle at them,” said K Rama Rao, another conductor.RTC vice-chairman and MD J Purnachandra Rao inspected the buses provided with the partition at Rathifile bus depot on Sunday and said it was being tried in eight buses to start with.
“Women and girl students expressed happiness over this partition. A decision has been taken to introduce this feature in all Ordinary city buses which are usually overcrowded and passengers jostle with each other, putting women to inconvenience,” said Purnachandra Rao. Asked if the partition would be introduced in buses in other districts, he said a decision would be taken taking into account the rush experienced there.
Many Complaints about Services
Passengers at Rathifile bus stand took the opportunity to pour out their complaints with bus services there. Most of them lamented that buses which ply between one point to other arrive one after the other within a time gap of 5 to 10 minutes and those who reach the depot after some time are left stranded for at least one hour.
“Four buses from Parsigutta to the depot leave within a span of 20 minutes. Given this situation, commuters who come later would not find a bus. I am from a poor background and rely on bus pass to cut down the costs. But I have to hire an auto if I miss the bus, which means spending more money. I cannot afford that,” lamented a woman passenger.