COMMITTED TO TRAVELLER SAFETY
This refers to the online petition on Change.org filed by Rashmi Bachani with an appeal to redBus for improving safety of women travelers during bus travel. We are really appreciative of Rashmi reaching out to us and for her feedback and suggestions. We also conducted extensive research with women bus travelers and delved deeper on some of the difficulties they face while travelling by bus.
Based on this research and the inputs provided by Rashmi and others, we are attempting to put together a comprehensive system for resolution of problems associated with safety of women travellers.
We are looking at this from the perspective of : pre-travel (deterrence), during travel (emergency response) and post-travel (support and feedback)
GPS Enabled Buses / Live Tracking / Friends & Family feature
From the research that we conducted, we found that one of the places where women feel unsafe during their bus journey is before they board their bus while waiting for it to arrive. The Track My Bus feature on redBus uses the GPS technology to pinpoint the location of the bus. With the help of this feature, the traveller can reach her boarding point on time rather than wait at the bus stop for long hours. The friends and family feature keeps the passenger’s chosen contacts informed about their whereabouts with exact, real-time location while they are on a journey. This feature was designed especially keeping in mind women’s safety.
We are collaborating with bus operators to enable their buses with GPS Tracking. Over 3,500 buses have been integrated with this system and we are trying our best to get to near universal adoption for this by all the bus operators.
One of the other feedback that we received from women travellers was about potential harassment/misbehaviour by co-passengers. CCTV cameras are a strong deterrence mechanism for this kind of behaviour and also for addressing other safety concerns such as theft or staff misbehaviour. We are actively advising bus operators to adopt this technology and have started showing buses with CCTV cameras as an additional amenity on our platform.
We acknowledge the concern about ensuring background verification of driver and other staff on the bus. redBus would augment the efforts of the bus operators in this direction and would step in to lead this effort where needed. We would positively influence the bus operators to do this on a continuous basis and also work closely with bus operator associations for sharing of information on blacklisted staff and to drive this agenda with their members. We would also look at the most appropriate manner of displaying this info to travellers booking their tickets on redBus.
Rest Stop Information
We understand that this is a basic need that needs to be addressed. Presently, there is no information of the Rest stop that is available for travellers booking their bus ticket. We have recently started showing this information for buses with GPS. Very soon, ratings of the Rest stop on parameters of Hygiene and Safety would be made available for passengers to make an informed choice. This would also prompt Bus operators to take this aspect seriously and enforce rest-stops at hygienic and safe locations.
For many bus operators, the details of the driver/ bus staff are now being sent an hour or two prior to the journey to those of our passengers booked on that bus. We are engaged in scaling this up to include all bus operators and this is a top priority for us. Apart from the transparency that this brings, it also promotes safety by ensuring that correct and real-time information regarding bus arrival and boarding point address reaches the passengers.
We have collated emergency contact of the responsible person from the bus operator’s end for all bus operators. This information would be sent out in an SMS to women travellers (prior to their journey). We are also encouraging bus operators to display this information prominently inside the bus. For this purpose, we have designed a communication poster/sticker with safety suggestions and emergency numbers including that of the bus operator. This communication will be available in English as well as local regional languages for the convenience of travellers.
Based on feedback, we have added a category on Passenger safety in our complaints form. This category deals with all safety related issues and are immediately escalated to our customer service leadership for quick follow-up and action. Further, we have also taken steps to sensitize our staff to handle such complaints appropriately if they are raised to them over a call or email.
Going forward, we will be specifically reaching out to women travellers asking them to give us their feedback on their travel experience especially around safety and encourage them to bring up issues that they face during travel.
We believe that every passenger has a right to travel in a convenient, safe, and comfortable manner. The entire ecosystem needs to be come together to ensure that this mission is realised. And at redBus, we are committed to playing our part in this endeavour.
Originally published at blog.redbus.in on June 8, 2016.