The ‘not-so-smart’ Public Transportation System of our ‘Smart City’
Every day, I travel from Buchpora to Lal Chowk and back, for attending my school, (GGHSS, Kothibagh Srinagar). Traveling an eleven-kilometer one-way distance daily has become a pathetic struggle and a cause of severe dismay to me because of the inadequate, poor quality public transport system available on the route. In fact, while travelling in crowded buses, I often wonder what made Srinagar bag the ‘Best City Leader of the Year Award’, this year! The award is basically given for providing ease of living to the citizens and for preparing the city to act as an engine of growth. I ask myself- does our city really fall in this category?
The ground realities contradict all such claims and one wonders how such prestigious titles are awarded without even a cursory survey. Even a child can prick holes in this bubble of so called ‘Smart City’ that is not so smart really and needs a lot of improvement to deserve such an award.
Here, we will not talk about the city’s basic infrastructure, drainage system, sanitation, waste management, inadequate water & electricity supply and so on, which must be the fundamental parameters to gauge the ‘smartness’ of a city, but let us only look at the pathetic public transport system in the city.
Despite being the center for multiple schools and colleges, Lal Chowk fails to have frequent public transport in different directions to the city outskirts. Owing to the shortage of transport, students are unable to reach schools and colleges in time. For us, it is always difficult to reach the school or college on time, especially during the morning hours, because all means of transport remain occupied due to the public rush. Lack of transportation can cause students to have numerous absences in school attendance and who is responsible- Smart City?
In the evening, many students (I am one of them) have to wait for nearly an hour to fetch an overcrowded bus, wherein girl students are always vulnerable to the misbehaviors within these cramped spaces. Mind it- the overcrowded buses are the safest place for predators to harass women. It has always been like that. Back in 1998, the then administration had issued a circular stating that in every passenger bus seat numbers from 1 to 7 are to be reserved for the ladies and handicapped. The circular is still applicable because it has never been withdrawn since then. However, neither the traffic police nor the citizens tend to respect such guidelines in Kashmir.
Those who are at the helm of affairs in this ‘Smart City’ must realize that people, especially girl students, are facing numerous problems due to the lack of adequate and quality public transport system in the city. Everyone can’t afford a private vehicle, cabs or unmetered auto-rickshaws- thus it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the public transport is adequately available in the city, especially on the crucial timing —mornings and forenoons.
Also, the government should arrange special buses for the prominent higher secondary schools and colleges for women, who have a large number of students, to provide the transport facility to the girl students from different areas of the city. Why do the students have to opt for unsafe modes of transport when the government can easily facilitate buses?
It’s disgraceful that even in the 21st century, we’re still asking for such basic facilities, that too in a supposedly ‘Smar City’.
In case the government fails to ensure a safe and adequate transport facility for the girl students in the city, then it is better to stop harping about the ‘Smart City’ slogan. Do not falsely claim it to be one! Forget the smartness of the city; just ensure at least the basic facilities to the citizens of the city —begin with providing an adequate public transport system.
(The writer is a student of class 12th)