Delhi steps up efforts to boost female staff in public transport | Latest Delhi News
Only around 1,900 (4.5%) of the 42,000 workers who keep the capital’s public transport network – metro and buses – running are women, data analyzed by HT of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) showed. ) and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), even as the state government has stepped up efforts to increase this number and close the gender gap in the workforce.
Experts said the number needed to improve significantly and called for measures to create a more conducive environment to facilitate a more balanced workforce.
Delhi has the largest metro system in the country and also plans to increase its fleet of buses to around 9,700 by the end of 2023. Delhi currently has 6,894 buses, of which 3,761, including an electric bus, fall under the DTC and 3133 from the cluster scheme.
The data showed that of the 28,949 DTC employees, 28,149 (97.2%) are men and the remaining 800 (2.7%) are women. Additionally, the city has only one female bus driver and 732 female drivers, or 4.7% of the 15,433 bus drivers employed by the DTC.
Compared to the DTC, the DMRC fared slightly better, with almost 1,100 (7.8%) of its 14,000 employees being women. Of these, at least 115 are train operators, while 300 are engaged in stations and trains in different capacities related to operation and maintenance.
At present, DMRC operates a 391 km metro network with 286 metro stations. As part of its phase four expansion, DMRC is engaged in the construction of 65 km of new lines on three different corridors.
Together, the city’s state-run buses and the Delhi Metro carry around 6.9 million passengers daily, based on data from the pre-Covid years through 2019. Of this total, the DTC and buses cluster have a daily ridership of 4.2 million, while the Delhi Metro carries about 2.7 million passengers every day.
Certainly, the Delhi government has taken a series of measures to include more women on public transport over the past six months. Last month, it decided to relax the standards for recruiting female drivers for its buses, including reducing the minimum height needed from 159cm to 153cm and reducing the “experience criteria” to one month for female candidates. It decided that women qualified for the position of drivers would initially be deployed on low-floor buses. Additionally, in another first, the Delhi government has also earmarked 1,406 (33%) of the 4,261 new permits for new electric cars in the city exclusively for women.
Despite the relaxations, only more than a dozen women have so far qualified to apply for the job of bus driver in the past month. As for e-drive permits, only about 800 applications for the 1,406 female-only permits have been received by the Delhi government so far.
But experts said simply reserving roles for women was not enough and urged relevant agencies to also focus on creating the required infrastructure in their respective workplaces.
On August 10 last year, HT pointed out that the few female DTC employees avoid using the female-only toilets at bus depots as they are rarely cleaned and sometimes even used by their male counterparts.
“The transport sector remains male-dominated in India, and with the exception of the efforts undertaken by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), very few state transport agencies have invested in creating an enabling environment. conducive to the entry and growth of women in public transport services,” said Amrita Gupta, Advocacy and Communications Research Director at the Azad Foundation, which trains women to drive commercial vehicles and transport and helps them obtain the necessary licenses from the transport authorities.
She added that it is very important to ensure a gender sensitive infrastructure for more women to consider such jobs. “Well-placed separate toilets for cis and trans women with regular cleaning staff, disabled facilities, adequate supply of soap and water, lights in toilets and common area, waste bin for Disposal of menstrual waste, separate lockers and changing rooms/breakrooms for women to ensure privacy are the basics,” Gupta said.
Shreya Gadepalli, a renowned transportation expert and chief administrator of the Urban Works Institute, said state transportation utilities should also put in place a functional policy to address sexual harassment of women in the workplace. work, adding that the names of committee members should be clearly announced. at several locations at each depot and bus terminal.
“More women in the workforce, especially as passenger-facing staff, encourage more women to use public transport services. However, transport companies must also ensure that the workplace is safe and conducive for female workers. It starts with basics like clean toilets in all offices and depots as well as safe and convenient transportation from home to work,” Gadepalli said.
Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the city administration is actively engaging with all stakeholders and including their suggestions as concrete points. “Delhi has come a long way when it comes to the role of women in public transport. We already provide free bus rides for women in Delhi, but now our focus has also shifted to including more women in public transport operations. It is true that the numbers have been quite low and the working conditions unfavorable for all these decades so far. But, under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, we are changing all that in Delhi and trying to set an example for all other states,” he said.
Anuj Dayal, Executive Director (Corporate Communications), DMRC said that apart from train operations and station management, there are a number of female civil servants in senior positions, as Heads of Departments (HODs) and Deputy HODs within DMRC.
“Delhi Metro is an equal opportunity employer. There is no ban on entry of female candidates for any of our profiles and recruitment is strictly on merit in accordance with government rules and regulations without any gender bias. Our workspaces have separate washrooms, changing rooms, etc. for women and all government guidelines regarding protection from harassment in the workplace are strictly followed,” Dayal said. .