A bus ride to empowerment from Nasrapur

A bus ride to empowerment from Nasrapur

A bus ride to empowerment from Nasrapur

Women from this nondescript village near Pune in Maharashtra unlock the opportunities to get educated and employed, thanks to the launch of bus services to the city 


For the people of Nasrapur village, their gateway to education, employment and empowerment is just a bus ride away. Located 36 km from Pune city, Nasrapur is a thriving example of how mobility can improve the quality of life. Students, labourers, working women and senior citizens form part of the burgeoning crowd, whose dreams and aspirations are dependent on the bus service. Here are some insights from the conversations with the daily commuters, who are keen to make new friends and refresh old ties during the two hour travel to Pune.

(Above) Tickets for different long-distance bus routes mentioning their respective prices; (below) A board at Katraj bus depot with information about bus routes and schedule  (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters) 

"Ten years ago, there was only one state transport bus to Pune from our village. The journey in itself was a very unpleasant experience due to the poor condition of buses, lack of good roads and the resulting fear of accidents," says Swati Zende (32), who was a student then. Girls who travelled to the city for education and job opportunities preferred hostel accommodation over the uncertainty and insecurity attached to public transport back then. Parents were also reluctant to send their children for higher studies, while women hardly thought of securing a job after education. Accessing health facilities was also difficult. All these problems remained until public transport service under Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) began.

Girls and women using PMPML services for their daily commute to schools and workplaces (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)

Students take the bus to reach their schools every day (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)

Things began to fall in place when the residents of Bhor and Nasrapur approached the state government for an improvement in public transport facilities. After several meetings with local political representatives and PMPML employees over the course of 2020-2021, a decision to start new bus routes was taken. "When these buses began to ply, parents encouraged students to commute daily instead of staying in hostels. The buses were easy on the pocket as PMPML offered student passes. Women and elderly also got the benefits of passes that offered travel at subsidised rates," Zende informs
 Passengers alighting at Vinzar bus stop from bus no 296 that runs with a regular frequency on the Katraj-Vinzar route via Nasrapur (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)

Some bus stops are arbitrary points on the road (above) while others are in pretty rundown condition (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)
A man finds a spot to rest in a crowded bus (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)
A ticket checker interacting with a group of senior citizens travelling on the bus (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)

A crowded bus in the evening, as everyone is heading home (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)
Today, women of Narsapur need not worry if they are travelling late. Even at 9 pm, they can travel alone, which was something very uncommon a decade ago. Though the frequency has improved, the buses are still jam-packed in mornings and evenings. Looking at the crowded buses, one can easily say that more women are enjoying the benefits of empowerment. And it encompasses not just students or working women, but even daily wage labourers and housemaids. No wonder, why Chris Gethard compared public transport with a magnifying glass that shows civilisation uр close.
In the absence of adequate bus services, such private vans (above) and shared autos step in to fill the void (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)


Edited by Pranoti Abhyankar
Cover Photo - A picture from the reporter's journey (Photo - Rutuja Chougale, 101Reporters)

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