Awaken Nepal

Transportation service only for women launched

A piece of paper displayed from inside the front window of a minibus at Kalanki bus stop clearly reads, ´Only-for-women Transport Service´. Like it reads, only women commuters were seen getting on the minibus at Kalanki, Sunday.

The commuters, both sitting and standing in the vehicle, seemed relaxed and in control of the situation, unlike what is usually seen in public transport in the Valley.

Transportation entrepreneurs have launched the minibus service exclusively for women commuters, on a route passing through key locations across Kathmandu city.

The Bagmati Federation Transport Union (BFTU) has begun the women-only transport service with four 17-seater minibuses, from Kalanki to Balkot, Kaushaltar.

This is the first time that a transportation entrepreneurs´ union under the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) has systematically launched a special transport service to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for women commuters during rush hour. The initiative comes at a time when incidents of sexual harassment on public transport vehicles in the capital are widespread due to overcrowding.

Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, flagged off the Kalanki-Balkot minibus service amid a function at Kalanki, Sunday.

BFTU provides the women-only service in two shifts during rush hours–9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Two minibuses each leave from Kalanki and Balkot during each shift.

BFTU claims that around 100 women will benefi on each trip.

The service connects places like Kalimati, Tripureshwor, Thapathali, Babarmahal, New Baneshwor, Koteshwor, Jadibuti, Lokanthali and Kaushaltar.

“Even though there are reservation seats for women in public transport, they could never enjoy them properly. And some women passengers complained of physical abuse by male passengers. So, we decided to provide a service exclusively for women,” said Bharat Nepal, president of BFTU. Of late, as many as 40 minibuses are in operation under the union.

BFTU has appointed women conducters for the service.

Women passengers are really happy to travel on the minibuses operated exclusively for them. Many of them were saying that it would be a huge relief if other transport unions operating short routes in several parts of the Valley provided similar services to women during rush hour.

“We have initiated the service. We hope other unions will emulate our initiative,” said BFTU´s Nepal. As many as 85 unions are currently operating public transport in the Valley on different routes.

A study by the Asian Development Bank states that one-third of the passengers commuting on public transport in the Valley during rush hour are women.