The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for the scheme.
“With this, we have fulfilled another poll manifesto promise,” the chief minister said after the launch, and claimed that a record 85 per cent of promises have been implemented by his government.
He said the state government was now moving towards realising 100 per cent of the commitments made before the assembly elections.
While everyone only talks about women empowerment, the Punjab government has taken several concrete measures to achieve the same, the chief minister said.
In fact, while the promise was to reduce bus ticket prices for women by 50 per cent, the government made it totally free, he said.
Singh also urged private bus operators to understand their social responsibilities and reduce tariffs.
Women can avail this scheme in government-owned buses, including Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways Buses (PUNBUS) and city bus services operated by the Local Bodies department.
However, it is not applicable to the government-owned AC, Volvo and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) buses.
Expressing concerns over crimes against women, the chief minister said his government was committed to their safety, and the transport department was installing GPS in all government and private buses to enable easy tracking of these vehicle, in addition to panic buttons for emergencies.
The process is nearly complete for government buses, and private operators have been asked to get this done by August 31, the chief minister said in a statement here.
He further announced that 25 more bus stations would be built in the state to improve road connectivity.
Singh said the free travel scheme will give a boost to his government’s vision of inclusive growth and development of women and girls.
He said around 33,000 women will get jobs in the state this year, and added that a large number of girl students have been provided smartphones to help them study during the pandemic.
During the virtual launch that connected 30,000 people across 1,036 locations, Surinder Kaur, who boarded a bus from Baghapurana to Jalandhar to fetch medicines, said she was pleasantly surprised to discover about the scheme.
Punjab Youth Congress chief Barinder Dhillon lauded the move. He said free travel for students to and from educational institutes should be considered to promote education.