Earlier this week, Vankadarath Saritha, a 30- year-old woman from the southern state of Telangana, became the first female bus driver to operate on a commercial level.
Saritha, who had previously worked as private chauffer, said she took the position to help her family. “We are five sisters. I first learnt to drive an auto rickshaw and then drove a van for a college, before driving a bus” she said.
The company said that out of eight applications, they hired Saritha, who would be the first of hopefully many female applicants to express interest in the position, “now we will advertise again and hire more female drivers”.
Other Indian states have employed female bus drivers for quite a while, but this is the first time Delhi has hired a female to drive a DTC bus.
Passengers seemed happy to see Saritha behind the wheel, with many stopping to take photos, congratulate her and wish her well on her first day.
Saritha’s employment comes after years of growing public anger over the harassment and abuse of women on public transport in Delhi.
The transport system in Delhi has been deemed unsafe to use by many females, following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in 2012. Even taxi firm Uber is under fire for the accusations of rape brought against a driver, by a female passenger last year.
Delhi has responded by providing female-only carriages on trains and metro services in the capital to attempt to improve safety for passengers.
Saritha has spoken to local media about taking the position with a mind to protect and ensure the utmost safety is guaranteed for her female passengers, allowing them to feel comfortable taking something as necessary, as public transport.
What do you think? Are female bus drivers a good idea for combating the harassment and abuse of women? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.