By UFAQ FATIMA
SRINAGAR: The Ladies Special Bus Service started by the government in April 2016 in the city is running in losses with very few commuters using the service.
“The service was a success at start, especially on Dargah route, but presently it is running in loss. We are not even able to reimburse fuel cost of buses; salary and maintenance is out of question.” said Mushtaq Ahmad Chanda, General Manager Jammu and Kashmir State Transport Corporation (JKSRTC).
He said that the government should be clear about the plan and should play an active role to make it successful, “otherwise we have no option but to close this service as for now it is only adding losses to corporation”.
The pink buses specially meant to cater to female commuters were operational during the months of uprising too, making them vulnerable to damage.
“There was a huge demand of vehicles during six-month unrest so we put these pink buses in operation too. These buses were new and in good condition, and got damaged (during these months),” Chanda added.
With six buses, three from JKSRTC and three from private operators, this service was flagged off with fanfare in April 2016 by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
However private operators pulled out of the service quickly, and for now, five pink buses of SRTC are running on the roads.
“We stopped the service immediately after the inauguration. Our buses were only functional for one day and we immediately stopped our service because no one was boarding our buses and this was not going to be successful,” said Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf, Chairman Mini Bus federation.
The service was launched to relieve the women of the inconvenience and harassment they face in otherwise overloaded buses. “It was such first kind of initiative in Kashmir and should have been successful but unfortunately it is running in losses because of the less frequency of such buses and lack of proper plan by government to make this service successful,” said Mohammad Rafiq Tibatbakal, Deputy General Manager, Tourist Service Division (TSD). The five pink buses are operating on different routes in Srinagar like Soura, Hazratbal, Pampore, Harvan and Nowgam.
Salma Tabassum, a Srinagar resident, and a daily commuter, told Kashmir Reader that the ladies special was a great initiative but “it is not helping me in any way”.
“I can barely see any pink bus in Lal chowk so I prefer to travel in local mini buses to save my time rather to wait for pink bus,” she said.