Some day girls can stop arming themselves with pins and pens

Thank this Bengaluru-resident women can look forward to safer bus travel through redBusImage: Rashmi Bachani/ change.org page
news Sunday, June 12, 2016 - 19:19

The best advice for a girl / woman who commutes or travels frequently by bus: “Armed yourself pin or a pen in case of ‘emergency’”. Emergency is when ‘respectable’ elements a few seats from you bother you. Now, thanks to a change.org petition, popular bus booking service redBus has agreed to start taking measures to make travel safe for women.

On June 10, redBus has finally agreed to implement some of the recommendations suggested by a traveler who was molested by a bus driver. 

Bengaluru-based Rashmi Bachani started the online petition urging redBus to effect changes to benefit passenger safety two months ago. Saying that she was molested by the bus driver, she added she would resort to flights, which are not only expensive but also require advance planning, as it's difficult to decide which bus to take as there are no verified buses.

Almost two months and 1,49,264 supporters later redBus has agreed to put in place emergency numbers, staff verification checks and ways to reaching out to women for safety.

Not just this, the country’s largest private-bus aggregator has said that it would take pre-bus travel, during bus travel and post bus-travel measures. These include GPS tracking system, CCTV camera options, staff verification, check rest stops, give driver details, provide emergency numbers, improve complaint handling and ask for feedback from every passenger after travel.

“If companies like Ola and Uber can do driver verification and staff verification I don’t see why a giant like redBus that has its services spread across the country can’t do,” said Rashmi, who had a difficult time getting a response from redBus when she complained that she had been molested by a driver. 

The 27-year-old said that she was unsatisfied with the plain response that she received from redBus for the complaint and later to the mail suggesting improvements.

"I wrote in to the CEO of redBus, who was very sympathetic and heard me out, and did realise it’s a serious matter. However nothing really happened after that one e-mail so I decided to go public and see if there are other people who feel the same way I do,"she said.

“At the meeting I insisted that they improve how they address customer grievances. A generic response saying ‘sorry for the inconvenience’ is not going to work when the woman is undergoing trauma. To my mail suggesting improvements, including adding a ‘woman safety clause’, they plainly responded saying: 'Thank you for your suggestions, we will attempt to implement the same'. These matters require staff who are willing to listen. Cases of this nature happen frequently and go un-reported because, there's noone to report them to. I've asked redBus to encourage women to talk about these incidents, and to listening when women do complain,” she said.

Rashmi said that all buses must have verified drivers and redBus should push the travel companies to provide the necessary details asked for.

“Currently, none of the buses are marked as verified as yet. This is a measure yet to be implemented and I look forward to it on the site in the coming months. And it was about 2 weeks ago, when I was travelling to Goa that I realised I had absolutely no idea how to choose which bus from the list,” she said.

Rashmi hopes this cuts down crime rates against single women and more importantly assure women travellers of safety and not brush aside incidents thinking that "this happens" and "chalta hai".

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