In a span of just seven days, the city’s image as a safe haven for women has taken a serious beating. While a gang of five raped a photojournalist in Mahalaxmi on Thursday evening, an American national was slashed and robbed on Monday.
Every day, about 42 lakh people travel by the BEST of which over 10 per cent are women. It was discovered that the situation inside the buses was more or less pathetic for them, especially during peak hours. Sources in BEST claimed that even they were concerned about the safety of female passengers during peak hours and hoped that no untoward incident would occur.
“This is the prime reason for operating ladies special buses,” said a BEST official.
In addition, the number of seats reserved for women was recently increased after women complained of inconvenience caused to them while travelling in a crowded bus. Authorities also said that they were almost done installing CCTV cameras inside buses.
“We expect the installation to end soon,” said A Tamboli, BEST spokesperson.
Installation of 250-odd cameras had been pending for a while now. But a few officials raised doubts over the quality of the footage, which they said at times was unclear and grainy.
Besides, BEST has women conductors as well. Currently eight women conductors are posted at the Wadala depot. Officials said they allotted ‘spare duty’, which means they would be working whenever there was a shortage of conductors. Moreover, their eight-hour shifts were fixed between 7am and 7pm. There are 18 routes starting off from Wadala depot.
Approximate number of people who commute by BEST buses daily
Proportion of women among these 42 lakh commuters