In Tamil Nadu, offering free rides has been successful, but installing panic buttons in taxis has not.

Average daily ridership during 2022-23 reached 45.51 lakh thanks to the state transport companies’ fare-free riding plan for women.

CHENNAI: Average daily patronage during 2022-23 increased to 45.51 lakh thanks to the state transport companies’ fare-free riding plan for women.

Still, it’s not going to happen that public transport vehicles are required to have GPS trackers and panic buttons installed. The Union government has set the start date for this programme as April 1, 2018.

Within its first two months in office, the DMK government in July 2021 instituted a programme that provided free bus rides to women. Women accounted for roughly 65% of the total commuters who rode in 7,164 regular buses, averaging 45.51 lakh trips per day as of March this year.

There is no place in the country where such a plan was put into action. Covid-19 Shutdown (2019-20) ridership dropped to 76 lakh, but the initiative brought new life to the transport companies. “Every day, we transport 1.71 crore commuters,” SS Sivasankar, minister of transportation, said to TNIE.

A survey by the state planning commission found that each female passenger saved an average of Rs 888 per month. “The scheme has eliminated barriers to entry for women in the classroom, in the workplace, in healthcare facilities, and in government offices,” Sivasankar said.  

Women, transgender people, people with disabilities, and their caretakers will be able to ride regular buses for free in 2023–24 thanks to an allotted sum of Rs 2,500 crore. For 2023-24, the budget is up from the previous year’s Rs 1,520 crore to Rs 2,500.

The Union government mandated that all public transport vehicles to have GPS trackers and panic buttons installed by April 1, 2018 to protect female passengers.  In light of this, beginning in April 2018, the state transportation agency mandated the installation of GPS and panic buttons for all newly registered vehicles. However, a central authority to oversee the plan’s execution has not yet been established.

2,500 MTC buses now have panic buttons, and the rest of the government fleet will have them soon. The previous AIADMK administration put off establishing the command centre. Transportation experts recently visited Kerala to observe the programme in action there. “The plan will be put into effect very soon,” Sivasankar promised.

“During evening and night travel, women who come from other districts or other states sometimes feel uncomfortable,” said National Domestic Workers Movement head Josephine Valarmathi. Since many women work nonstop, it’s important that public transport vehicles and taxis have readily accessible emergency buttons. There are 3.01 auto-rickshaws and 2.01 motor cabs, call taxis, and omnibuses in the state.

Documentation of Facts

 There were 255 billion rides taken by women between July 2021 and March of this year.

 Daily attendance averages 45.51 million people.

 Seven thousand one hundred sixty-four regular buses carried over 65 percent of all commuters.

 The yearly budget of Rs 2,500 billion

 Capacity of the fleet: 21,000

 The deadline for installing GPS and emergency buttons in public transport vehicles is April 1, 2018.

 The state’s population has 6,021,000 cars.



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