Watch | Modi’s controversial take on free bus rides for women

Watch | Modi’s controversial take on free bus rides for women

What do the hard numbers say about the bus travel scheme in Tamil Nadu? Taking examples from cities across the world, is there any truth to Mr Modi’s comments that free bus travel adds to traffic woes?

Updated - May 24, 2024 02:43 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2024 10:56 pm IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a recent television interview, said that some political parties were offering free bus travel for women in order to win elections. He argued that this took away 50% of the patronage of the metro rail system where it existed. He said this made the metro rail unviable and would also add to the traffic woes and impact the environment.

Women are offered free bus travel in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab and Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, it is called the Vidiyal Payanam Thittam (scheme). This was one of the earliest welfare schemes of the DMK government under CM MK Stalin when they came to power in 2021, at the height of the second wave of the Covid pandemic.?

Given that it was one of the flagship schemes, it was only natural that Stalin reacted sharply to Modi’s comments. Citing statistics, he said the patronage for the Chennai Metro rail since 2019, had only increased. He added that since Modi subscribed to the “retrograde ideologies of the RSS”, he feared anything that would lead to the empowerment of women. He also criticised the Modi government for not releasing funds for phase 2 of Chennai metro rail.

What do the hard numbers say about the bus travel scheme in Tamil Nadu? Taking examples from cities across the world, is there any truth to Mr Modi’s comments that free bus travel adds to traffic woes?

Script and presentation: D. Suresh Kumar

Video: Johan Sathyadas

Production: Shibu Narayan

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