Mumbai's civic transport provider, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is all set to launch dedicated bus services in the city for the women travellers. The announcement was made on Wednesday, October 3, where 70 new routes will be introduced with a fleet of 100 buses. Out of 70, 10 will be called 'Ladies Special', that will only allow women on board. The remaining 10 will be called 'Ladies First' where women will be given priority at the first bus stop.
This fleet will hit the road on November 6. Initially, BEST had started this service but they were discontinued due to COVID-19, as lockdown was placed across the country to combat the deadly virus from spreading rampantly. The buses will be colour-coded, in order to differentiate from the rest of the buses.
Fully Air Conditioned Buses On This Route
Around 90 per cent of the buses that will travel on these routes will be air-conditioned. The rest of them will be non air-conditioned (AC) Tejaswini and CNG buses that will also be a part of this fleet. Quoted by NDTV, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray made the announcement about this initiative, stating that this will make commuting for women easier around the city.
Out of the 10 ladies special routes, eight are in the South part where as two are in the Central part. The main depots here include Colaba, Worli, Wadala, Backbay, Kurla, Dharavi, etc. The routes chosen here are the ones that get extremely crowded during peak hours. There are no such depots in the Western zone.
BEST's General Manager, Lokesh Chandra, told The Free Press Journal, "We will be running 137 bus trips for women passengers. Now that more people are travelling, we want to make bus travel more comfortable for women. There are, on an average, 28 lakh total passengers travelling everyday in our buses, of whom10-12 percent are women passengers." Another official added that while they will get preference at the first bus stop, the route will automatically become 'Ladies Special' if the majority of passengers are women.
The bus services and local trains, Mumbai's lifelines, were restarted in a staggered manner,, after COVID-19 lockdown in 2021 to fight the deadly second wave of the pandemic. Just a month back, the Maharashtra government allowed fully-vaccinated passengers to travel in the local train. Earlier, a monthly pass used to be issued to them instead of a daily ticket.