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Late night public transport- Does it mean our city is safer for women?

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A city with a population of over a crore needs a transport system round the clock. Unfortunately, this legitimate demand of citizens seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Even the much touted Bangalore Metro system shuts it services at 10:00 PM. This is unlike DMRC whose services run till 11:00 PM. Whilst in the case of BMRC, it may be argued that the ridership numbers are still too low to extend the services, no such argument can be extended to BMTC. Bangalore has a huge floating population as well. This means there are people landing in the city at odd hours for their business and personal needs. Safe and adequate public transport options are a must for this class of customers.  

Late night bus services would also mean that Bangalore becomes a safer place, particularly for women. A street vendor was sexually assaulted by three men at a farm house who offered her a lift. The victim got into their car at around 9:00 PM because she did not find a BMTC bus to ferry her home. The issue of safety of passengers (both men and women) need to be addressed adequately in the light of all the incidents that have occurred in the recent past. There was a lot of furore after the Nirbhaya case in New Delhi but people tend to ignore the fact that the incident happened because the victims were forced to get into a bus, which was not authorized to run services on that route. The incident happened at Munirika and the bus was an Off Duty Charter Bus. The unfortunate incident could have been avoided had DTC run adequate services on this route. More importantly, this incident highlights the lack of regulation as far as public transport in India is concerned. For long, Mumbai was considered to a safe city for women because of the easy availability of late night transport services. Women executives were even known to take the last suburban train back home. The recent series of events that have happened in the island city however seems to suggest that times have indeed changed.

Private players could be definitely be encouraged to enter the space of offering late night services. However, one needs to address concerns such as safety of passengers, women safety, passengers’ fares and comforts through adequate regulation. This becomes all the more important as in the recent past we have seen quite a few intercity private buses go up in flames killing people. There is also been an increases in sexual crimes in the last few years. Hence, we need to allow players with financial wherewhithal to enter this sector and not the fly by night kind of operators, whom we find in Kochi and Mangalore. 
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