Ladies first: Women-only van service launched in twin cities
RAWALPINDI: A transport service intended to exclusively facilitate women was launched in the twin cities on Monday.
Named “Tabeer”, the service is the brainchild of the Rawalpindi Transport Authority. The 12 vans allocated for the purpose will operate on two routes from Rawalpindi Saddar to Islamabad Secretariat between 7am and 7pm.
“The sole aim for launching the service was to save women from the daily hassle of travelling in overcrowded public transport,” said District Coordination Officer Sajid Zafar.
The launch ceremony was inaugurated by Punjab Labour and Human Resource Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, with Member National Assembly Malik Abrar and officials of the district government and the cellular services provider that sponsored the service in attendance.
Expressing appreciation for the initiative, Sarwar promised the addition of more vans to the existing fleet for greater facilitation. Moreover, the van service will also start operating on other routes, he said.
The project is part of the provincial government’s vision to improve the transport network, shared Sarwar. Referring to the multi-billion rupee metro bus project, he said that an 8.5-kilometre-long elevated bridge to Faizabad will be constructed due to unavailability of space in the city.
“When the project was launched in Lahore, it was severely criticised. But after its completion, even the naysayers appreciated it and now feel comfortable travelling in it,” said Sarwar. The van service exclusive to women will continue on other routes after the metro bus project is completed.
The project has been launched in collaboration with the cellular company Zong and a private firm, Al-Abrar Associates.
Passengers will be charged the same fare as regular public transport service.
Female conductors have been hired for the service for added ease of women commuters. The service was officially started on Monday.
The development garnered positive reactions from the target market. Rehana Shahid, a lecturer at Quaid-i-Azam University said, “Most of us will get rid of the horror and abuse we face daily while taking the public transport.”
The feeling of insecurity among women while travelling publically is a big challenge which needed to be addressed, she added.
Khadija Waqar, another commuter remarked on the situation, “Charging extra fares, ogling by misbehaving conductors, drivers and male commuters are the issues that women face daily.” She said that harassment has become a fact of life for women, and hoped that the freshly-launched service would help in this regard.