Why free ride for women in Delhi Metro is a bad idea?


To control the damage which was caused by the defeat of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections, the party came up with a populist measure to make travel free of cost for women in Delhi Transport Corporation Buses, cluster buses and the Delhi Metro.
This idea is completely baseless and flawed at multiple dimensions. Firstly, this move of the Delhi government is likely to cost about 1,200 crores per year. Clearly, this money could be well used to improve public infrastructure (for instance, installing CCTV cameras on streets) which could have helped improve the safety of women in the capital.
Also, Delhi is actually short of buses and needs far more buses than what is have at a moment. How are such moves going to improve the safety of women is also not clear. I am not saying that women safety is not important. In fact, according to a recent study, the women of the capital spend more time and money on travel due to safety reasons.
Perhaps, the measures for women safety need to be far more efficient than just waiving the fare in public transport. Further, such freebies are like injecting the wrong venom into the veins of the public. Today the government is proposing waiver on the fare of women, it is definitely possible that in future students or for that matter any other section of the population will demand such waiver.
At a broader level, it is imperative to understand that the government has finite resources. Investing money on such waiver schemes implies that the government would have less to spend on building infrastructure, improving healthcare and educating girls.
Additionally, going by the recent trends, you would find that giving away such freebies only have a negative impact on the electoral outcomes. Take the case of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where the Congress’s’ promise of giving Rs. 72,00 per year to the bottom 20 percent of the households didn’t have any impact on the outcome of an election.
It is likely to think that voters have a look at multiple things before they decide to vote for a particular candidate. Nevertheless, it is quite understandable why parties go for freebies as they have nothing to lose. If the works, it is the taxpayer who pays the price for the freebies announced by the party. Hence, instead of providing quality public goods (which is the duty of any government), political parties often take the easy route by announcing giveaways.


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