KARACHI: The theme was pink and the slogan ‘women empowerment’ as the Sindh Mass Transit Authority succeeded in making all the women in the city smile by inaugurating a safe, convenient, affordable and comfortable Pink People’s Bus Service at Frere Hall here on Wednesday.
Initially eight buses have been introduced that will operate on a single route from Model Colony, Malir to Tower via Sharea Faisal from 7am till 10pm. During peak hours in the morning and evening, the dedicated bus service will operate every 20 minutes and every hour during the rest of the day. It will best facilitate commute for college and university students and office-going women and the fare is only Rs50.
Sohaib Shafiq, the project director of the Pink Bus Service, said that keeping the safety of women in mind there are cameras installed inside the bus, which also has women conductors.
Women-only service inaugurated; women will be able to ride pink buses without paying fare till Feb 7
Architect and researcher Marvi Mazhar said that the bus service was a great communicative way for the urban planning of the city. “I also ask that the government start a pink boat service for women to commute between islands and also expand this bus service to other cities,” she said.
Actor Ushna Shah said making commute easy for women would go a long way in helping the country’s economy. “Girls will feel safe enough to go to their school, college and universities. If they feel safe enough to work then that’s just excellent for our economy. So this one little step for women will be a giant step for all Pakistanis,” she said.
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sharmila Farooqui recalled the time when the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto was alive. “She helped found the first women’s police station, then the First Women’s Bank. PPP has always thought about women’s rights and the empowerment of women,” she said and congratulated her leadership.
Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said that the bus service was badly needed. “So many of our daughters use public transport to get to their places of study or work even though they are not comfortable or safe in them. But now these buses will be like a game changer for them,” he said. “They’ll be comfortable and they’ll be confident as they go about their way,” he added.
Sindh Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said: “If you have strong women, you have strong homes and strong families. So we cannot neglect our mothers, sisters and daughters. It’s the government’s responsibility to come up with policies to provide a safe environment to women so that they feel safe to step out of their homes and work alongside men,” he said.
He also said that although the bus has male drivers for now, he has asked the NRTC to train women to drive the bus.
“We have women driving huge dumper trucks in Tharparkar so these, too, can have women driving them. As soon as we get trained women drivers, they will be replaced with the male drivers,” he said.
Finally, the minister also announced that women will be allowed to ride on the Pink Bus for free, without having to pay any fare, for its first seven-day operation in the city, till Feb 7.
Later, it was a treat for all the guests at the inauguration to watch Sharmila Farooqui settle in the driver’s seat of one of the pink buses and drive it at the conclusion of the ceremony.