In a step towards inclusivity, a private bus operators' association in West Bengal has decided to reserve two seats for transgender commuters in its buses, an official said on Monday, August 17.
The initiative is the brainchild of 23-year-old Sobhan Mukherjee, who is popularly known as "Kolkata's Padman" for setting up sanitary napkin vending boxes in public toilets in the city. His latest initiative to reserve seats for transgenders is supported by the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates(JCBS), the umbrella organisation for around 40,000 privately owned public buses in the city.
Tapan Banerjee, General Secretary, JCBS said two seats in every bus associated with the organisation will be marked as "Tridhara". He further claimed that nearly 35,000-40,000 buses in the state are affiliated with the organisation.
"It is not just about earmarking two seats but to recognise transgender people and create awareness among commuters to treat them as equals," Banerjee was quoted as saying by PTI.
"This will also sensitise the staff of the buses as well as passengers to treat people from the third gender with respect," the General Secretary added.
He added that in a couple of routes in the city, the process of marking the seats in buses have already begun. Soon, it will be done in all the buses associated with the council, he added.
"We want to show everyone that trans people deserve as much respect as anybody else. We set aside only one seat near the driver's cabin because we didn't want to reduce too many general seats, which are few because of reserved ladies' seats," Mukherjee was quoted as saying by The Times Of India.
Banerjee further urged the state transport undertakings and other private operators take up the novel initiative and reserve two seats for transgenders in each bus.
In a similar move in June, the Noida-Greater Noida Metro had decided to dedicate its Sector 50 station to transgenders, which will also have special facilities and provide employment for the community.
"NMRC has started this initiative with very noble intentions with the aim to empower the Transgender Community. NMRC will also be providing them with up employment opportunities to help them become self reliant and pave the way for their healthy inclusion and participation in the society," Ritu Maheshwari, MD NMRC, had said in a statement.
The NMRC also plans to spread awareness about the community among its commuters with the help of signage at its stations and announcements inside the trains and stations.Also Read: Hyderabad: Transgenders Turn Entrepreneurs, Begin Pickle Business Amid Pandemic