Guidelines released for free travel bus scheme for women in Karnataka

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Guidelines released for free travel bus scheme for women in Karnataka

Bangalore: The Transport Department on Monday issued a government order specifying the terms and conditions for the free bus travel scheme for women, one of the five guarantees rolled out by Karnataka’s new Congress government.

The scheme will come into effect from June 11 and cover only women with Karnataka domicile. Girl students and linguistic minorities will also be covered.

For the first three months, beneficiaries will have to show their government-issued photo identity and address proof. Bus conductors will issue them zero-fare tickets.

Thereafter, beneficiaries will have to obtain Shakti smartcards (named after the name of the scheme) through an application process on the government’s Seva Sindh website.

Government buses in Karnataka ferry about 40 lakh women daily. The number is expected to rise by 10 per cent under the free travel scheme, which will cost the government about Rs 4,700 crore per year.

V Anbukumar, Managing Director, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), promised better service once the scheme was rolled out.

He said the KSRTC was confident that the government would support it financially to run its daily operations. Asked if the free travel scheme would affect diesel procurement, he answered in the negative.

“We buy Rs 5 crore worth of fuel from HPCL daily and get credit for 60 days. So we won’t have any problems,” he told The government pays RTCs every quarter, he added.

Salary payments won’t be a problem either, he stressed. “The government has supported us for three years. We can manage,” he added.

Anbukumar disagreed that the online application process for Shakti smartcards would place rural women at a disdavantage. “We shouldn’t underestimate rural people,” he said.

Terms and conditions
* The scheme will apply to all four Road Transport Corporations in the state (KSRTC, BMTC, NWKRTC and KKRTC).

* City, ordinary and express bus services will be part of the scheme.

* Women can travel for free only on bus services within the state. Bus services to destinations outside Karnataka will be outside the scheme’s purview even if women travel within the state. For example, a woman travelling to Belagavi on a Hubballi-Kolhapur bus will have to buy a ticket.

* The scheme will not apply to luxury buses (Rajahamsa, Airavat, Airavat Club Class, Airavat Gold Class, non-AC sleeper, Ambaari Dream Class, Ambaari Utsav, Fly Bus, EV Power Plus, Vajra and Vayu Vajra buses).

* Half of the seats on KSRTC, NWKRTC and KKRTC’s ordinary and express buses will be reserved for men. Luxury, AC and interstate buses as well as BMTC buses will be exempted from this.

* The government will reimburse the RTCs based on the actual distance travelled by women.

How to get Shakti smartcards?
* The smartcards will be issued on the state government’s Seva Sindhu website. There will be no physical application process.

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