COIMBATORE: Following recent incidents wherein women refused free travel on government buses, resulting in heated exchanges between them and conductors, officers of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) have purportedly issued oral instructions to conductors to collect fare if women passengers wished to pay for the ticket.
Officials gave this instruction in order to avoid arguments between crew and passengers who did not want to travel free. Sources, however, said there is no provision for conductors to collect fares from women passengers.
A conductor from Coimbatore division, who did not want to be named said, “Even though there is no provision to collect the fare, we cannot refuse if a woman passenger insists on paying for her ticket. Recently, at least two or three women passengers demanded paid tickets in a day. If we refuse, an argument erupts between us. We took up the issue with our branch officials, and they told us we can collect fare if women insist on paying.”
He said they count it as a ticket issued to male passengers.
A senior TNSTC official refused to confirm if such instruction was given to conductors.
“We have not issued any directions to conductors about collecting ticket fare from women passenger on free buses as there are no guidelines from the department. As per the norm, ticket fare cannot be collected from women passengers on the free buses,” said S Senthilkumar, General Manager, Coimbatore region.
It may be noted that the State government reimburses Rs 16 to TNSTC for every ticket issued to a woman passenger.
At least 63 per cent of ordinary bus users are women
With the State govt offering free travel to women in ordinary buses since May 8 last year, and fare-less tickets to women, transpersons, persons with disabilities (PwDs), and their attendees since July 12, 2021.