Hyderabad: The Telangana Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) has transported approximately 2.5 crore women for free during the Sankranti season between January 10 and 18. The scheme has turned out to be more financial freedom for women.
In December 2023, the State government launched a Mahalakshmi scheme that made women and transgender people travel free on State-run buses. While the rides are completely free with no restrictions on the number of trips per day or month, there is no doubt that many women are benefiting from this scheme. The response has been a tidal wave of smiling women laying siege to buses, especially during the festive season.
According to the TSRTC, on an average day, about 27 lakh women travel in buses across the State, but during the festive season, 29 lakh women opt for public transport to visit their hometowns and return. The occupancy ratio reached 90 percent during the festive days. Initially, the corporation operated 4,484 buses for Sankranti, which was increased to 6,260 buses for all days depending on the needs of various areas.
Moreover, it has been observed that the percentage of women using TSRTC buses for their daily commute surged from 52 percent to 81 percent after the launch of the scheme. A survey was conducted on 3,530 women by the Helping Hand Foundation, a city-based healthcare NGO, across various health institutions in the city, indicating that half of the increase in bus travel was for medical purposes.
The surveys show the link between free bus service and health-twin benefits. In the gross increase of 31 percent, nearly half, or 15 percent women are now using the free bus services to access free public health facilities. The outpatient footfall in government hospitals, area hospitals, and primary health centres increased from 10 percent to 15 percent.
According to the report, twin benefit savings from free transport and health care will potentially improve other social indices of marginalised women and their families. 60 percent of women said the savings will help them pay the school fees of their children, 28 percent said it will improve their food security, and the rest said it will help them in other ways.
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