List of Indian States Offering Free Bus Rides For Women (2024)

In 2019, Delhi became the first state to offer free bus rides for women, setting a precedent for empowering women through mobility. Today, several states offer similar initiatives, including Telangana’s recent addition. Discover the complete list of Indian states that are utilizing free public transport to foster gender equality and social inclusion.

Free Bus Rides For Women in Delhi
A woman passenger showing her DTC Pink Slip Pass. Source: AAP

Telangana marked a significant milestone on Saturday by introducing free bus rides for women and transgender individuals.

The government’s bus scheme extends free travel privileges to women, girls, students, and the third gender, allowing them to utilize city ordinary and metro express services in Hyderabad without any cost.

Comprising 48% of the 1.4 billion populace, women are progressively emerging as an important electoral segment. Hence, political parties across the country are increasingly focusing on women-centric welfare schemes to appease women voters.

Whether a sincere welfare initiative or a political maneuver, these free transport schemes for women successfully empower women in India, providing them with greater freedom, accessibility, economic opportunities, and a step towards fostering equality.

Despite being a substantial part of the population, women’s participation in the Indian workforce is relatively low, with only 23% representation compared to 32% in Bangladesh and 34.5% in Sri Lanka, according to World Bank data.

Experts have highlighted how high bus fares act as a deterrent to women seeking employment, impacting their already modest wages.

Subsidized commuting can play a crucial role in encouraging more women to join the workforce.

By offering free transportation, women are not only encouraged to seek employment but also explore opportunities beyond their immediate vicinity, all while enjoying substantial cost savings.

As states across India adopt similar measures, the impact of free bus rides for women is becoming a powerful catalyst for positive change.

Also Read: 5 Women Bus Drivers From India Who Dared to Challenge Traditional Notions of Gender Equality

List of Indian States Providing Free Bus Rides for Women in 2024

Let’s take a look at all the states in India providing free bus rides for women.

1. Delhi

List of Indian States Offering Free Bus Rides For Women
A woman passenger showing her Pink Slip Pass
Scheme NamePink Slip Pass
Launched on29 October 2019
Launched byCM Arvind Kejriwal (Aam Admi Party)
BenefitsFree bus rides for women on DTC and cluster buses (both AC and non-AC)

Named the Pink Ticket Pass, the free bus travel initiative for women in Delhi was introduced in October 2019 under the governance of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Pioneering the nationwide concept of offering free bus rides for women, Delhi became the first state to implement such a scheme.

This Pink Ticket Pass permits women to travel in all DTC buses and cluster buses (both AC and non-AC) without paying.

In the fiscal year 2021-22 alone, women availed themselves of 13.04 crore free trips on DTC buses and 12.69 crore on cluster buses.

By January 2023, a staggering 100 crore “pink tickets” have been utilized.

2. Tamil Nadu

StateTamil Nadu
Scheme NameZero-Ticket Bus Travel (ZTBT) Scheme for Women
Launched onMay 2021
Launched byCM MK Stalin (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)
BenefitsFree bus rides for women on state-owned ordinary buses to up to 30 kms

In May 2021, the Tamil Nadu government introduced an initiative allowing free bus rides for women commuters.

Called the Zero-Ticket Bus Travel (ZTBT) Scheme for Women, it allowed women to travel free of cost on government-operated regular-fare buses within cities and towns in the state, specifically for distances up to 30 kilometers. Women are provided with zero-fare tickets when utilizing these bus services.

The Zero-Ticket Bus Travel (ZTBT) Scheme for Women has proven to be a significant boon for female passengers throughout the State, offering a multitude of advantages.

According to a study by the State Planning Commission of Tamil Nadu released in November 2022, the free bus rides for women initiative has proven to be a grand success and helped the women of the state. It has aided in:

  • Increasing their disposable income
  • Facilitating greater involvement of women in the workforce
  • Reducing reliance on family members for transportation
  • Creating fresh opportunities for social connections and learning experiences.

The study further states that the Zero-Ticket Bus Travel (ZTBT) Scheme for Women has helped women save up to Rs. 1012 per month.

Statistically, the average women passenger succeeded in saving 11.4% of her monthly income through this initiative, with economically vulnerable users such as daily wage workers in agriculture/construction, street vendors, and domestic workers saving around 14% of their monthly income.

Also Read: Where is Coimbatore’s Viral Lady Bus Driver Sharmila in 2024?

3. Karnataka

Bus flagged off under Shakti Yojana that allows free bus rides for women
Inauguration of the Shakti Yojana at Central Bus Stand, Jewargi, Karnataka.
Scheme NameShakti
Launched onJune 2023
Launched byCM Siddaramaiah (Indian National Congress)
BenefitsFree bus rides for women on state owned non-premium buses

Launched on June 11, 2023, the Shakti scheme was introduced promptly after the Indian National Congress came to power in Karnataka.

The scheme allows free bus rides for women in all state-owned, non-AC buses including KSRTC, BMTC, NWKRTC, and KKRTC.

Under the Shakti Scheme, female beneficiaries are entitled to complimentary rides exclusively in Ordinary, Urban Transport, Express, and Regular Transport Buses. Notably, there is no minimum kilometer limit imposed for availing of this cost-free transportation benefit.

To avail the benefits of the free bus ride for women under the Shakti Scheme, a Smart Card is mandatory. Women beneficiaries can obtain this card by submitting an online application form under the Shakti Scheme, and the issuance of the Smart Card is free of charge.

While awaiting the receipt of their Smart Card, women beneficiaries can present any photographed identity including Aadhar Card, Driving License, or Voter Identity Card.

According to the Karnataka Transport Department, from June 11 to November 22, women in Karnataka have collectively taken 1,004,756,184 rides under the Shakti scheme.

BMTC has secured the top spot by providing an impressive 32.69 crore free bus rides to women under the Shakti scheme.

The cumulative value of the free tickets issued under the Shakti scheme amounts to ₹2,397 crore, as reported by the Karnataka Transport Department.

Also Read: Long Weekend Travel Trends by Bus: Abhibus Insights 2024

4. Telangana

Scheme NameMaha Lakshmi Scheme
Launched onDecember 2023
Launched byCM A. Revanth Reddy (Indian National Congress)
BenefitsFree bus ride for girls, women and transgender persons in RTC buses

On December 9, 2023, Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy launched the Maha Lakshmi Scheme that provides free bus rides for women, girls, and transgender individuals in state-owned RTC buses.

Women and transgender individuals of all ages, as well as girls aged 6-12, are eligible to travel in Palle Velugu, Express, City Ordinary, and City Metro buses

To avail themselves of the benefits, women need to present acceptable identity documents that confirm their residential address. Upon verification, eligible women will be issued a “Zero Ticket,” allowing them to access the free bus rides provided under the scheme.

The scheme was met with enthusiastic response and rapid adoption. According to the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) a staggering three crore women passengers took advantage of free bus rides in a remarkably short span of just 11 days.

Official sources indicate that within just four months of its initiation until April 7, the scheme collectively saved them a remarkable Rs 1,177 crore.

Presently, an impressive average of 29.67 lakh women commute daily via bus.

Also Read: The 10 Best Electric Buses in India With Range

5. Kerala

Scheme NameSamudra Bus Service
Launched onAugust 2021
Launched byCM Pinarayi Vijayan (Communist Party of India)
BenefitsFree bus rides for women fish vendors from coastal areas

While not all women can enjoy free bus rides in Kerala, the state has a special scheme called Samudra Bus Service introduced to ferry women fish vendors from coastal areas to the city.

Launched on August 29, 2021, the Samudra bus service is a collaborative effort between the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the Transport Department, and the Fisheries Department.

This initiative is aimed to alleviate the financial burden on women fish vendors who traditionally spend a substantial amount, approximately Rs 400-500 daily, on commuting from coastal regions to the city.

The bus services operate from 5 am to 10 pm, and currently, there are three bus services.

The Samudra buses are equipped with key features designed to enhance their functionality for transporting fish. Among these features, a rolling platform serves the purpose of loading fish baskets onto the bus efficiently.

Additionally, the bus is equipped with a collection tank designed for storing saline water, catering to the specific needs of transporting fish.

On November 2023, Kerala has also announced free bus travel for students from extremely low-income families.

Also Read: List of Made in India Hydrogen Buses Empowering Sustainable Mobility

6. Punjab

Scheme NameFree Bus Travel for Women in Punjab
Launched onApril 2021
Launched byCM Amarinder Singh (Indian National Congress)
BenefitsFree bus rides for women of Punjab in non luxury buses

In April 2021, CM Amrinder Singh introduced the scheme that allowed free bus rides for women throughout the state of Punjab.

This offer applies to all women who are family members of Punjab Government Employees residing in Chandigarh or are Punjab Government employees living in Chandigarh.

Women can enjoy free travel in government-owned buses, such as Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways Buses (PUNBUS), and city buses run by the Local Bodies department.

The free travel benefit is available only on ordinary buses and doesn’t apply to government-owned AC, Volvo, and HVAC buses.

To avail of this facility, women need to show documents like Aadhaar card, voter card, or any proof of residence in Punjab.

Also read: In Pics: The Evolution of Prakash Tourist Buses Over the Last 50 Years

According to official data, in April 2021, around 61.18 lakh women utilized buses for their daily commutes in Punjab. This figure nearly doubled after the introduction of the scheme, reaching 1.12 crore by November 2022.

As of 2024, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Punjab are the only 6 states in India that offer free bus rides for women to bolster the socio-economic participation of women.

While there has been considerable debate against free bus rides for women in India, the initiative proves pivotal in addressing gender inequality, especially in the Indian context.

Fare-free bus travel not only economically empowers women by broadening job prospects and saving expenses but also contributes emotionally, socially, and health-wise.

The program fosters independence, aids school attendance, enhances access to medical facilities, and increases safety perceptions with more women utilizing public transport.

Despite the ongoing debate, the initiative stands as a transformative step, challenging patriarchal norms and promoting inclusivity for the overall well-being of society.

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