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Only 9% Indian Women Feel Public Transport is Safe, But they Still Use it: Report

By: Rakhi Bose


Last Updated: March 07, 2019, 16:58 IST

(News18 Creative by Mir Suhail)

(News18 Creative by Mir Suhail)

Ahead of International Women's Day, Indian cab aggregator Ola' s survey titled 'What Do Women and Girls Want from Urban Mobility Systems?' reveals some disturbing facts.

Though most urban women in India rely on some form of public transport, a whopping 91 percent of women across eleven cities think public transportation systems are extremely to somewhat unsafe. Only 9 percent women actually think consider them to be completely safe.

Ahead of International Women's Day, the Indian cab aggregation company Ola has come out with a survey titled 'What Do Women and Girls Want from Urban Mobility Systems?' The report includes the inputs of 43,486 individuals including 9935 female respondents who were rated on the basis of 52 parameters.

Public Transport Unsafe but Only Option

One of the key findings of the report is the shocking lack of trust women commuters have on public transport though it is the most preferred mode of transport among women. About 38 percent women use buses while 35 percent use the metro or train users. Meanwhile, 40-45 percent preferred auto-rickshaws and on-demand cabs.

The difference in the means of public transport preferred by women is dictated by their incomes, the survey found. While women in lower income groups prioritized affordability over comfort, women with consequently higher income groups preferred to travel in more personalized spaces.

The sharp dependence on public transport for women in lower income groups becomes apparent with the shift in preference with increasing wealth. While almost half the women with incomes less than 15,000 preferred public transport, only two percent of women with incomes more than Rs 1,00,000 preferred the same.

In fact, as many as 15 percent women who used public transport to travel said they did it because they had no other choice, while 40 percent said they did it because of better affordability.

No Footpaths or Bike Lanes

But what is a woman to do in case she lacks private transport and public transport is unavailable? Walking and using public transport for last mile connectivity is popular with women but as many as 57 percent of the women surveyed reported that their cities did not have a seamless footpath connection or adequate dedicated lanes for non-motoring vehicles like bicycles.

The latter is also important from the environmental point of view. While 95 percent of women who responded said that that they understood the importance of environmental sustainability of transport. However, only 4 percent preferred the use of non-motorised forms of travel such as walking or cycling.

Unplanned Cities

Despite the introduction of new metro lines in cities like Delhi, last mile connectivity remains low. As many as 77 percent of the female respondents felt that more could be done in the area.

According to a 2004 study by the University of Florida Transportation Institute, short-sighted city planning is one of the factors that affect local travel for commuters. Proliferation of migrant populations and unofficial housing causes citizens to make several extended trips using various forms of local transport.

While proliferating metro and bus lines could be one of the answers to the problem of lax last mile connectivity, municipal corporations may need to take a second look at land use patterns in cities to find out how well connected all areas of a city are via the central public transport systems.

The 2012 Delhi gang-rape case which took place on a moving off-duty charter bus on December 16 brought the spotlight on improving the state and security of public transport. But despite intense debates about women's safety following the case, candle marches and promises of improvement, not much has changed for women on roads.

While the administration did a launch slew of apps such as Delhi Police's Himmat app for women, launched in 2015 by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the efforts may not have borne the expected fruit. In March 2018, a parliamentary panel noted that the app may not have lived up to its usefulness as it had very few users (30,821), despite Delhi's 19 million strong population.

More recently, the Delhi government launched the first phase of its 'Connect Delhi' scheme that aims to improve the existing public transportation system and provide public transport within 500 metres of walking.

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