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[op-ed snap] Taken for a ride: on India’s gender-blind transport system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Need for gender sensitive public transport

CONTEXT

A 2010 report by New-Delhi based NGO Jagori revealed that 51% of women in the capital faced harassment inside public transport, and another 42% while waiting for public transport.

Ola’s survey ahead of International Women’s Day 2019, highlighted how only 9% of the surveyed women commuters in the country felt safe in public transport, but still used it due to the lack of other options. 

HOW TO MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SAFE FOR ALL

  • Rope in traffic police at large bus depots, MRTC railway stations
  • Provide functional and responsive helplines
  • Ensure elevators and escalators are functional
  • Better footpaths and clean subways
  • Create safe and usable cycling tracks
  • Set up the gender advisory committee
  • Most importantly, educate and sensitize men

Problems

  1. As per a 2017 report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, women may turn down better employment opportunities further away from home in favor of lower-paid local jobs when the public transport system is unreliable or unaffordable
  2. This holds true especially for those belonging to lower-income groups, thus impacting their access to better jobs, education and basic necessities
  3. The report also states that over 84% of trips by women are by the public, intermediate public and non-motorised modes of transport
  4. Efforts to improve our crumbling public transport systems — used by a majority of the population — haven’t been addressed.

Motor Vehicles Bill 2019

  1. The bill provides some relief to passengers as far as app-based taxi-hailing services go
  2. It gives power to the Centre to regulate these services and set ground rules on safety and surge pricing, and get them to invest in customer care teams 
  3. It points out issues of road safety, heftier fines for errant drivers, vehicle recall norms
  4. There’s no mention of better roads or infrastructure development

Unless we have gender-responsive plans for urban transport in place, our cities will be far from inclusive.

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