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What is Karnataka Government’s Shakti scheme which offers free bus rides to women

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The newly elected Congress government in Karnataka has recently launched ‘Shakti’ scheme for women which they had promised ahead of the polls. Shakti is a scheme which offers women free travel in non-premium services offered by State–run Road Transport Corporations (RTCs).
Under this newly launched scheme, which is one of the Congress party’s pre-poll promises, female and transgender residents of Karnataka are eligible for free travel in government buses across the state.

Which buses under scheme

Shakti scheme was implemented from June 11 this year, where beneficiaries can travel for free on non-premium buses of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KKRTC), North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).
Free travel in Luxury, sleeper and AC buses within and outside Karnataka is not allowed under this scheme.

Eligibility

The Shakti scheme currently applies to women and transgender people, who are permanent residents of Karnataka. Female students and those belonging to linguistic minority residing in the state are also eligible.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launching the Shakti scheme

Smart Card

To avail the benefits of Shakti scheme, every female passenger must carry a smart card for which they need to apply online through the Seva Sindhu portal. The scheme started on June 11 and beneficiary passengers will get three months time to acquire their smart cards.
Till the time the smart card is issued, the beneficiaries will have to carry any photo ID proof issued by the government such as Voter Card, Aadhaar card, Driving License, Passport, or others, with address proof of Karnataka, while travelling in bus. Smart card will be mandatory after the initial three months.

Rising footfall

According to information from the transport department, all four state-run buses (RTCs) have witnessed a drastic rise in passenger footfall and revenue ever since the scheme has been rolled out. As per reports, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KKRTC) have showed considerable rise in passenger footfall and revenue.
With the passenger footfall and daily revenue increasing substantially within a month of implementation of the scheme, the state’s transport minister Ramalinga Reddy has reportedly asked for permission from the government to recruit additional over 8500 staff for the four transport corporations. These will include drivers, conductors, and technicians.