Ride with pride: inclusive e-mobility revolution in Bhubaneswar
The transport sector in India is mainly male dominated. Female workforce such as bus, rickshaws, or cab drivers is almost non-existent. Additionally, marginalised groups were most vulnerable to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an attempt to make the transport sector more gender inclusive, the Capital Region Urban Transport Company (CRUT), a local transport agency in Bhubaneswar (capital of the Indian state of Odisha), responsible for the provision of the public transport service ‘Mo Bus’, ARUNA, a local non-governmental organisation, and the German Development Cooperation implemented by GIZ joined forces to introduce an e-rickshaw feeder system. Through this initiative, more than 120 women, transgender, and HIV affected persons were trained as e-rickshaw drivers. The project aims to provide livelihood to the marginalised groups of society that were formerly working in the informal sector or just staying at home. This is a unique initiative in India which is not only creating employment opportunities that are inclusive of all genders but also promoting e-mobility. CRUT was recognised for this initiative and won the United Nations Public Service Award 2022 in the category of ‘Promoting Gender-Responsive Public Services to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ as well as four consecutive years in a row the award for ‘Best Urban Transport Project’ at the Urban Mobility India Conference.
The initiative is part of a bigger vision for Bhubaneswar, in which GIZ under the Indo-German development cooperation project ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility - Air Quality, Climate Action, Accessibility (SUM-ACA)’ supported CRUT in setting up a new bus system which is connected to the e-rickshaw feeder system service. An electronic ticketing system was introduced that provides gender disaggregated data and the number of female employees was increased. Now 40% of the ‘Mo bus’ conductors are female and training for female ‘Mo bus’ captains has started. Currently, the bus system transports 200,000 riders per day and is largely seen as a best practice example for introducing public transport in an Indian metropolitan area.
The Indo-German development cooperation project ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility - Air Quality, Climate Action, Accessibility (SUM-ACA)’ is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India. The project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and aims at enabling national, state, and municipal institutions to promote climate and environmentally friendly, low emission and socially balanced urban mobility systems. The project is part of the Green Urban Mobility Partnership between Germany and India.