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Women ridership may go up by 50% on scheme execution: CM

NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday asserted that the DMRC has predicted that after the implementation for Free Metro Travel for Women scheme nearly 50 percent hike in women ridership would be expected.

"The DMRC has submitted a concrete proposal on our scheme to make public transport free for women. The DMRC has said it expects a 50 per cent increase in women ridership after the roll out of this scheme, which means 45-50% of the ridership will be women. This will mean a total financial commitment of Rs 1566.64 crore," said the Chief Minister.

CM Kejriwal added that two options have been proposed by the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) for the implementation of this scheme. One is a long term plan which would take one year to implement and will involve changing the DMRC's software, tokens and cards. However, the second option is a shorter stop-gap arrangement.

"As per this model, women shall be able to purchase tokens at ticket windows and automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) by simply sharing their destination. There will be a separate entry gate for women with this token, but their exit gates will remain common. The DMRC will not need to change their software," said the Delhi Chief Minister.

He further said that the DMRC has proposed that it would need 8 months to roll out this model. "we believe we can work with their officers and implement the scheme in the next 2-3 months. Only two steps need to be taken by the DMRC - special tokens need to be printed and in 170 stations where ticket windows have been shut, they need to be reopened. We do not think these steps will take more than 2-3 months," said CM Kejriwal.

Meanwhile, in this letter, the DMRC also observed that the proposal of this scheme should be passed by the Fare Fixation Committee which would have members of the Center and also state government. "The Fare Fixation Committee should ordinarily not be required in this case because this is not a matter of fare fixation. However, if the DMRC thinks it is necessary, we will go ahead with it."

When asked about whether the policy was discriminatory, CM Kejriwal said, "To those who say this policy is against gender equality, I ask - Do we have gender equality in this country, to begin with? We do not live in a country that treats women at par with men. Only 30 per cent of the Metro ridership is women. Women form only 11 per cent of Delhi's workforce, whereas the national average is 24 per cent. This needs to change. The kind of opportunities that will open up for women if their travel becomes free is enormous. It will boost their status as members of the workforce and boost the economy."

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