Dear Delhi Chief Minister,
You may think you have thought of a revolutionary idea of giving free bus and metro rides to women in Delhi, but let me tell you, you are far from right.
The metro is my preferred mode of commute in the national capital. First of all, there is no connection between my safety and a free ride on the metro. It is like comparing apples to oranges. How does not paying for the bus or metro make it safe for me? What will help in increasing safety is increasing the capacity so that there are more coaches or frequency is higher so that I do not have to board an extremely crowded metro coach and risk getting groped.
Secondly, I’m glad you acknowledge the fares are a bit on the higher side. However, it is on the higher side for people irrespective of gender. How about making the metro affordable for all? Affordability is not gender-specific.
Being a woman does not make me a special snowflake that I need to be given special concession to take the metro. It is a very myopic view to have that women are not taking public transport like the bus and the metro because of the cost.
Today, when we as women are struggling for equality in almost everything from equal pay to having a say, reducing us to poor little things only, makes it harder for us to fight the bigger fight of being empowered. We want equality, not charity. We want safety, not a poll promise you won’t be able to keep because I am almost certain few months later you will come crying how you wanted to give me a free metro ride but Modi didn’t let you.
And what about transwomen? What about inclusivity? You could not possibly deny the harassment the queer community faces. Shouldn’t you also think about making the public space a safe space for all? And what about the last-mile connectivity? Free metro or bus ride may not ensure safety to me if the streetlights on secluded roads are not working. How about trying to fix something that is actually broken instead of trying to fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed at the moment.
Your freebie promises may have worked in 2015, but it may not in 2020. In recently concluded elections people rejected Congress’ populist promise of free money to the tune of 72,000 a year. It is extremely insulting you think people could be swayed to vote for you at the promises of free things.
Pro-AAP propagandist Dhruv Rathee just cited an example of how Dunkirk in France has successfully implemented it and you gleefully retweeted his tweet. Please understand the total population of Dunkirk is 88,876 as per 2015 estimates. Delhi population is almost 2 crores.
Which brings me to, how will you fund this free rides? Who pays for it? Taxpayers? How will you fund it? Increase taxes? Or will you take away one subsidy to fund this subsidy? How will you keep track of women riding? Keep a register? And if the free rides do lead to an increase in ridership, are you equipped to handle the additional crowd, considering some routes of the metro are already quite crowded even during non-peak hours?
Thankfully you’ve asked for suggestions from everyone and this is still in the planning stage. Nip it in the bud, I’d say.
Nirwa ‘I’ll-pay-for-my-tickets’ Mehta