Congress govt launches free bus travel scheme for women in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Women in Karnataka can travel for free in government buses in the state from Sunday, with the roll out of the first of the five poll guarantees of the ruling Congress — the “Shakti” scheme.

This free travel service will benefit more than 41.8 lakh women passengers every day and would cost the state exchequer an estimated Rs 4,051.56 crore annually, officials said.

The scheme is available for women, who are domiciled in Karnataka, for the journey within the State limits after 1 pm today.

The travel in ordinary buses will be free for all women in Karnataka, starting from 1 pm on Sunday. Speaking to the reporters, Karnataka transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said, “Our priority is to make travel convenient for women across Karnataka. We will also increase bus services in those routes where shortage is observed. All women across Karnataka can travel for free from 1pm today.”

The minister also asked the women to apply for Shakti smart cards in next three months. Answering about the privacy breach, “We have designed these smart cards in a way that the data privacy will not be breached. The portal will be open for next three month and I request women to apply for Shakti smart cards.”

Meanwhile, until the cards are issued, women who would like avail the free travel benefit must carry a government photo ID card with their residential address on it. It is compulsory for women to carry the Shakti smart card, after three months from June 11. The scheme applies for all women in Karnataka, including the transgender community.

The Shakti scheme applies only on the ordinary state run bus services of Karnataka. Airavat, Airavat Club Class, Airavat Gold Class, Ambari, Ambari Dream Class, Ambari Utsav, Fly Bus, Vayu Vajra, Vajra, Non-AC Sleeper, Rajahamsa and EV Power Plus AC buses are excluded in this scheme. The scheme doesn’t also apply to those buses which travel outside the state. 50 per cent seats on KSRTC, NWKRTC and KKRTC’s ordinary and express buses will be reserved for men.