Change is Imminent: Delhi Transport puts a woman in the bus driver seat
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus has now hired Vankadarath Saritha as its first woman bus driver. The 30 year old Telengana native is stepping on unchartered terrain in the nation’s capital.
Having started driving at the young age of 20, she first got behind an auto rickshaw driver. She later moved to Nalgonda, Hyderabad and applied for a heavy vehicle driver’s license. She then took charge of a minibus in Hyderabad. At the turn of this decade, she moved to Delhi and drove all-women Sakha cabs run by Azad Foundation.
Her tenure at Sakha helped pick up essential life skills for her filed of work. Trainees pick up driving skills, self-defence, map reading, learn about Delhi routes and roads, communication, grooming and understand women’s rights. Sakha training programme spans over 6 to 8 months. 14 training modules cover: Driving and related skills, Women empowerment, and Personal Development.
Saritha also learned to operate luxury cars at Sakha. The job was contested by 8 women driver applicants. Prior to appointment, Vankadarath Saritha underwent four-week training programme at DTC training school.
DTC made special efforts to help her acquire a public service vehicle badge issued by Delhi Govt. Transport Department. Delhi Transport Minister, Gopal Rai accompanied Vankadarath Saritha to a press event to hand over her permit. She has been posted at Sarojini Nagar Bus Depot and took the wheel of bus number 543, beginning work this week with much appreciation from commuters, and Delhi Transport Corporation. Her appointment helps put women in the public transport driver seat, a space traditionally owned by men in India.
With crimes against women in public transport in Delhi, the need to initiate change is immense and the onus lies with the government, on whether or not they take measures to bring about real change, and invite women to drive as a career option.