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News Entry# 79120
Jun 23 2012 (03:16)  Few takers for ladies-only trams, CTC rues losses (
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Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 79120     
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A unique initiative to introduce ‘ladies special’ trams has got derailed because there are too few takers. Every ladies-only trip punches bigger holes in the coffers of the loss-hit Calcutta Tramways Corporation, forcing officials to think of phasing it out.
Tram conductors say they get five women per trip at best, making the service economically unsustainable. CTC chairman Shantilal Jain acknowledged that the ‘ladies specials’ had not become popular andwouldbe gradually phased out. “We have had a very poor response to the ‘ladies special’ service and have decided to make the second compartment a general one,” Jain told TOI. Sources said the move was a step towards withdrawing the service altogether.
These trams were introduced on March 8, International Women’s Day, and run from 3.30pm to 8.30pm. But the CTC authorities apparently did not consider the fact that mostwomen in Kolkata generally travel with their families — a husband, a father, brother or son — or boyfriends and wouldn’t board the ladies’ specials. Even those travelling alone seemed loath to wait for a ladies-only and boarded the general trams.
While CTC earns Rs 250-350 on average trips of regular trams on routes like 5, 22, 25 and 36, the average revenue on ‘ladies special’ trams is around Rs 50, say officials. “At times, there are only threefour women in the two compartments but scores of passengers waiting outside because they cannot board a women-only tram,” said conductor Arup Dutta, who was on duty on a ‘ladiesspecial’.He had little to do on these trips apart from dissuading men from boarding these trams and catching his 40 winks.
TOI took a few trips on the ladies’ specials christened ‘Mother’s Special’ and ‘Sister Nivedita’ andfoundonly three women on board one and seven on the other during a fourhour period.
Fifty-five-year-old homemaker Asha Upadhyay, who stays near Thanthania Kalibari, said she did not know about the existence of ‘ladies specials’ until she saw one and climbed on board. “I am not surprised to see so few passengers. The idea to operate a ‘ladies special’ may be noble but it will not make commercial sense as women commuters can’t wait for a ‘ladies special’ to arrive,” she pointed out.
Purushottam Chatterjee, a tram conductor for 15 years, saidtheservices,thoughuninterrupted, are very irregular. “The irregularity of these trams and the odd timings are the main reasons why women did not feel encouraged to avail of the special service,” he felt.
As a near-empty ladies-only rattled through Wellington and College Street, TOI spotted disappointed faces on the road as they stepped forward and then realized they could not board it. At Esplanade, homemaker Amita Chakraborty waited for quite a while for a ladies’ special and then optedtotake a bus.“I rarely ever get the chance to board a tram. There is no point waiting for a ‘ladies special’ that is even more infrequent. Though a tram ride is more comfortable and safe, I often endup taking a bustoGariahat as trams are rarely there,”saidAmita, a Jadavpur resident.
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