"I will ensure that all the female passengers of my bus have a safe journey...I will stand by my female passengers." Venkadarath Saritha issues these powerful words 48 hours before she commences driving a DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) bus, marking a momentous occasion in history: The 30-year-old from Telengana is DTC's first female driver.
First female DTC driver Savitha will be driving AC bus on Delhi roads from Monday. Good for city. pic.twitter.com/Onarx9hHXI— Anurag Dhanda (@anuragdhanda) April 17, 2015
Armed with a driving experience of 10 years, Saritha made the cut from amongst seven other women drivers, all of whom had applied for this post. Prior to her appointment, she had to undergo a four-week training programme at the DTC training school.
Her journey has not been easy: The youngest among five sisters, Saritha claims that she initially took up the job of an auto rickshaw driver, over a decade ago, to support her family. In an interview with Indian Express, she says that after her father died, the only way to earn a living and keep her family fed was to start driving auto rickshaws and minibuses. She moved from Nalgonda district to Hyderabad, and applied for a heavy vehicle driver's license. "It was in 2011 that I first drove a bus — it was more of a minibus — in Hyderabad. It gave me the confidence to earn a livelihood with dignity,” she reveals. Four years ago, this gutsy lady relocated from Hyderabad to Delhi four years ago to drive all-women Sakha cabs run by Azad Foundation, where she also learned how to operate luxury cars.
Her real challenge has only just begun: On Monday, Saritha shall join duty at Sarojini Nagar Depot, and admits that this will be a challenging job for her, even though she looks forward to it. "As a responsible driver I will be careful about the passengers in my bus and traffic on roads, she says.
DTC has taken special efforts to help this lady acquire a public service vehicle badge from the Transport Department. It's efforts have been lauded by Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai who hopes that more women shall be encouraged by Saritha's actions to step forward and join DTC's ranks.