Allowing free rides to women in buses is “not advisable”, the Delhi Finance Department has observed, citing the sluggish growth rate of the city’s tax revenue and Delhi Transport Corporation’s losses. The department suggested that waivers, if at all, should be given only to women from EWS category.
The Indian Express has learnt that the department has recommended that Aadhaar-linked passes be issued to categories that qualify for free rides for better monitoring and proper calculation of subsidy amount payable to the DTC and DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System), which manages the fleet of cluster buses.
The observations and recommendations are part of the department’s response to the draft Cabinet note on the proposal — announced by CM Arvind Kejriwal on June 3 — prepared by the Transport Department.
The note submitted by the Finance Department refers to the growth in the tax revenue of Delhi in 2018-19 and the first quarter of the 2019-20 financial year.
It states that since DTC is a loss-making corporation, “it is not advisable to allow free passes to female commuters in DTC and cluster buses” as it will put a “heavy burden” on the government, sources said. The note pointed out that the overall tax revenue of Delhi government has grown “only 2.54%” in 2018-19, and 1.71% in the first quarter of 2019-20. However, it is also learnt that the finance department has assured the government that notwithstanding its reservations, it “stands committed” to provide the requisite funds for implementing the scheme.
The department has suggested that if the scheme has to be implemented, it should be limited to women belonging to EWS/BPL/AAY category, so that the benefit can be availed by “deserving female passengers”.
“Doing so would enable the government to monitor the scheme as free travel passes to certain categories will come with photos. The financial liability… would also come down. The department has also suggested that Aadhaar-linked passes be issued…to monitor actual users and compute quantum of subsidies,” a senior official said.
The transport department has been asked to devise a mechanism to make transition to a digital system of free passes to eligible categories, shelving the prevailing analogue system of issuing daily tickets.
The DTC fleet has both AC and non-AC buses and the fare structures are also different. The fares in non-AC buses are Rs 5 (up to 4 km), Rs 10 (4-10 km) and Rs 15 (above 10 km). In AC buses, the fares are Rs 10 (up to 4 km), Rs 15 (4-8 km), Rs 20 (8-12 km), and Rs 25 (above 12 km).