GUWAHATI, Aug 1 - Daily commuters are facing a hard time this summer with the temperature in the city surging to a record high this July as the mercury touched the 36 degree Celsius mark.
Most people, especially women, prefer city buses for their every day commute. Even in this heat and pollution, many women are seen struggling for seats and space. Frustrated with their everyday �bus battle�, most of them are now opting for air conditioned cab services over the regular city buses.
But many women also prefer buses which are much more cost effective. �I have seen my colleagues coming to and leaving office in cabs. But the cab fare is three hundred times higher than that of the bus,� said Mitali Sharma, a regular city bus user.
The city also provides AC buses, but their number is not adequate to meet the needs of passengers. Sushmita Das, a software engineer at a private company here said, �I never come across any buses when I need them the most during the extremely hot and humid weather. I badly want to travel to my office in comfort, but the lack of sufficient numbers of AC buses makes me hop into an overcrowded bus every day. There should be enough AC buses at every bus stop, considering the comfort that the passengers, especially working women like me, seek. This is something everyone would want in this summer season.�
Some seats in city buses are reserved for women, differently able and senior citizens. Still, there are complaints from women as they have to struggle to secure a seat. Nusrin, who works in an insurance company at Ulubari, said, �It is very frustrating to see male passengers occupying seats reserved for women, without any sense of guilt on their faces. I have come across this situation a number of times. Despite seeing their co-passengers of the fairer sex struggling to stand inside the bus, these unscrupulous men do not even bother to offer them the seats. The bus conductor also rarely intervenes in such matters, which adds to the frustration of the hapless women.�
Subashree Dey, an architect by profession, talked about her daily experience in buses in the hot weather. She said, �My office is at Sixth Mile, so I take a bus from the Jonali bus stop to reach there. I reach the bus stop around 9.30 am, but the bus is overcrowded almost every day and I hardly get to sit. Even during busy office hours when working people like us have to reach office on time, the conductor keeps on taking in passengers even when the bus is overcrowded.� Summer in Guwahati is not at all the best season, particularly for women who have to commute daily in city buses. Arguments with male passengers occupying seats reserved for ladies too are not uncommon.