Chandigarh, March 31:
Women in Punjab get to travel free of cost in all Government-run buses within the state from Thursday, with the cabinet today stamping its formal approval on the scheme, announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh earlier this month.
The Chief Minister had announced the free travel scheme in the Vidhan Sabha on March 5, as part of his government’s efforts to empower women and girls in the state.
The scheme will benefit over 1.31 crore women/girls across the state. As per Census 2011, Punjab has a population of 2.77 crores (males 1,46,39,465 and female 1,31,03,873).
Under the scheme, women residents of Punjab can avail free bus travel in Government-owned buses, including Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways Buses (PUNBUS) and City Bus Services operated by Local Bodies. However, the scheme is not applicable to Government-owned AC Buses, Volvo Buses and HVAC Buses. Documents like Aadhaar Card, Voter Card or any other proof of residence in Punjab would be required to avail the facility.
Further, all women who are family members of Punjab Government employees and residing in Chandigarh, or are themselves employees of Punjab Government but live in Chandigarh, can avail the benefit, irrespective of age and income criteria, of free travel in the said government buses.
This scheme is expected to not only reduce female drop-out in schools because of high cost of daily transport but also facilitate working women, who have to travel considerable distances to their workplace. The facility will thus ensure access to safe, cheap and reliable travel for women to engage in any economic activity. Since the scheme is expected to encourage women and their companions to utilize public transport, it would naturally bring down the number of personal vehicles plying on the roads leading to consequent reduction in pollution, accidents and vehicular congestion, the Cabinet felt.