Bengaluru, May 28, 2023: Greenpeace unfurled a 20-foot LED banner in front of the Vidhana Soudha late last night, reading “Bus for women, Bus for all”, the organisation also sent an open letter to the newly elect chief minister reminding him that “Uccita Prayana” (free public transport for women) is merely the first step towards making public transport inclusive and safe for all. 

Stressing that Uccita Prayana only addresses the issue of affordability for women, Greenpeace Campaigner -Amruta S. Nair referred to the 2023 DULT report on gender intersectionality, which showed that lack of safety, poor routes, and limited accessibility to general urban infrastructure are major barriers for women in transit. “Over 31 percent of respondents in the DULT survey have experienced some type of harassment on buses” she said.

Greenpeace India calls on the government to act efficiently to ensure that Public transit in the city becomes inclusive, safe and  effective through measures such as increase in bus fleet size, women-only buses, toilets at bus stops and more

“It is crucial for policy makers and implementers to recognise that decisions on transportation should not be gender neutral since studies have shown that different genders have differing mobility needs and patterns. This scheme unfortunately, also omits sexual minorities and vulnerable groups like transgender communities, children, senior citizens and specially abled.” added Amruta.

The DULT survey found that 49.8 percent of women use buses for inner-city mobility. With a 25 day work month, maximum fare of Rs. 30 and an average daily wage in India between Rs 143 and 247 (derived from the ILO’s India Wage Report and data from the National Sample Survey Office), the scheme could save women 10 to 30 percent on their monthly transportation costs and encourage more women to use public transportation.

Yamuna Ganesh , a garment factory labourer and cyclist in Bengaluru said “We will be able to save money from this scheme, but we will not be able to reap the true benefits until the buses become truly reliable and provide us with last mile connectivity. We have written to BMTC several times asking for the introduction of mini buses and the full implementation of bus priority lanes for this purpose” 

In the run up to the elections, Greenpeace India presented a set of ten recommendations in its “Mobility Manifesto,”  to the three major political parties of the state – INC, BJP and JD(S). One of the important recommendations was to provide free public transportation for women. In the open letter to the Chief Minister the organisation has reiterated their demand of increasing the BMTC fleet to 14000, and establishing the 11 planned bus lanes.