“The DMRC has submitted a concrete proposal on our scheme to make public transport free for women. It has given us two options,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced at a press conference in the Capital on Wednesday.

Kejriwal said one of the proposals “is a long term plan that will take at least one year to implement and will involve changing the DMRC’s software, tokens and cards. However, the second option is for a shorter period ~ a stop-gap arrangement.”

According to the second option, “women will be able to purchase tokens at the ticket windows and automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) by simply sharing their destination. There will be a separate entry gate for women with those tokens, but exit gates will remain common. The DMRC will not need to change their software” said the Chief Minister.

Kejriwal further said, “Although the DMRC says they need eight months to roll out this model, we believe we can work something out with their officers and implement the scheme within the next two or three months. Special tokens will have to be printed and ticket windows at 170 Metro stations which had been shut down would need to be reopened.”

The DMRC is confident that women ridership after the rollout of this scheme will see a 50 per cent increase. This would mean a total financial commitment of Rs 1,566.64 crore. “The Delhi government will pay the DMRC the actual cost incurred,” said Kejriwal.

The Chief Minister reiterated that free ridership for women was “an arrangement for the empowerment and security of women.”

Kejriwal shared information that the DMRC believed the approval of the fare fixation committee would be required for the rollout of the scheme. He, however, clarified his stand: “The fare fixation committee should ordinarily not be required to do anything in this case because it is not a matter of fare fixation. Yet, if the DMRC thinks it is necessary, we will go ahead with it.”

When asked about whether the policy of providing free travel facility to women was discriminatory, Kejriwal asserted: “We do not live in a country that treats its women at par with men. Anyways, women ridership of the Metro is just about 30 per cent of the total ridership.”