19 women drivers to take over UP roads

  • | Wednesday | 24th February, 2021

When the Pink Express bus service was launched for women in UP, the state had a strange problem at hand. The service was meant to provide a safe travel option for women, with only women staff on board. But while they got conductors and support staff, there were no certified women bus drivers. Now, two years and a long search on, 19 women have been shortlisted to drive the state’s buses for the first time.

When the Pink Express bus service was launched for women in UP, the state had a strange problem at hand. The service was meant to provide a safe travel option for women, with only women staff on board. But while they got conductors and support staff, there were no certified women bus drivers. Now, two years and a long search on, 19 women have been shortlisted to drive the state’s buses for the first time.

“The process to train women bus drivers has been initiated for the first time in UP. The 19 women who have been found eligible will undergo a seven-month basic training, after which they will serve 17-month probation at depots as part of the advanced training module,” said SP Singh, principal of the UPSRTC Model Driving Training and Research Institute in Kanpur, the only one in the state to train bus drivers.

Shashi Prabha, one of the 19 women on the list, is thrilled. “I always wanted to travel and be independent,” the BTech graduate from Kanpur said. “I was looking for jobs after graduation when I got to know about this. It seemed exciting and I applied. I had no idea I would be chosen.”
By March, the first batch will start training. “Girls can fly planes. Why can’t they drive buses?” asked Soniya Sharma from Agra, also among the 19 shortlisted. “I love driving. If that could become my permanent job, I can’t think of anything better.”

Under the PM`s Skill India Mission, women between the ages of 18 and 34 who have studied up to Class VIII, are at least 160 cm (about 5 foot 3 inch) tall and have a learners’ permit for light motor vehicles can be recruited.
The basic training is free of cost. During probation, their food and accommodation will be covered by the state. At the end of the two-year programme, they will get a heavy motor vehicle licence.

Once recruited, the women will be drivers on the Pink Express buses. These air-conditioned buses have vehicle tracking systems and CCTV cameras onboard for safety. “UPSRTC has 50 such pink buses that are driven by men as of now. Initially, the newly trained women will be asked to take over these buses,” said Singh. “They will finally run the way they were meant to be, safer and by women.


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