Know Why Kejriwal’s free ride proposal is very unlikely to see the light of day!

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that he would improve women’s safety in the national capital through free bus and metro travel for women.

“Women will be given free rides in DTC, cluster buses and the Delhi Metro. The government will bear their travel expenses,” Kejriwal said while addressing the media at the Delhi Secretariat.

AAP government has in no straight words made it clear as to how they plan to implement their promise on the ground.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Board (DMRC) is a joint venture between the Central and Delhi governments. Any such major decision will have to be approved by the DMRC board. The DMRC has a 13-member board of directors that takes a call on the Delhi Metro’s affairs. It is headed by the secretary, housing and the urban affairs ministry. It is very unlikely that a board such as DMRC will agree to anything as populist as free-riders.

However, it is not only the strained ties between AAP and Central government that could hamper the proposal moving any forward but also the budgetary implications of the same makes it hard to achieve.

The chief minister estimates that about Rs 700 to Rs 800 crore will be spent by the AAP government to sponsor the travel of women commuters for the remainder of the year. The Delhi government, however, does not have complete control over financial matters since it has to refer them to the Lieutenant Governor (LG), who is appointed by the central government, for approval.

The hollow nature of the Chief Minister’s promise also came to light after it was learned that even hours after CM making the big promise in a press meet, the DMRC had no official information about the same.

“We have not yet received any official communication from the Delhi government or the senior management,” DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal told a media outlet.

If by some meagre chance, AAP government bypasses these hurdles, it will again have to face a major technical issue in implementing a gender-based riding system.

Delhi Metro’s system is a gender-neutral system has tokens and cards that cannot distinguish between male or female. It will be hard to prevent misuse of any such provision if a woman buys a ticket and a man uses it?

Secondly, the metro’s are already crowded if the government somehow decides to make a separate card-less, token less entry of women, how would it deal with overcrowding, overstaying of female commuters inside metros and station premises.

Moreover, AAP’s control over fair hike can also be known from the fact that since after metro fare hike last year, AAP has held protests, press conferences and agitations demanding DTC to roll it back. However, not a penny of the hiked fare was reduced. So with such control and say in the matters concerning DMRC, it is very hard to believe that this promise can ever see the light of the day.

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