Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ahmedabad BRT gifts first woman driver to Gujarat

Ahmedabad: The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Ahmedabad is set to give the state arguably its first female bus driver. Kalpana Soni is currently honing her bus-driving skills under Chartered Logistics Ltd, which has received the contract from Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd (AJL) to manage the bus operations in the city.

Soni may well be steering the BRTS buses on the corridor, rubbing shoulders with her male counterparts before the official launch of the transit system in Ahmedabad. "We have been looking for a female driver to operate a BRTS bus. But only after a long search did we find Kalpana," said Pankaj Gandhi of Chartered Logistics. He said he was keen to hire a female driver as they are sincere, punctual and soft-spoken.

"I was inspired to rope in female drivers when I saw how well they could take charge of buses in countries like China. Iam trying to rope in more female drivers. If all goes, the Ahmedabad BRTS will set an example for others to follow," Gandhi said. "Unlike the common image of female drivers, Kalpana is picking up her skills very quickly and with efficiency," Gandhi said.

Soni, who belongs to a well-settled family, earlier ran a driving school in Ahmedabad, claiming to have taught around 1,000 people till date. "Initially, I was very nervous while holding the steering of the bus. It is undeniably a heavy vehicle for a woman to drive. But Pankaj Gandhi convinced me to take up the job and gave me a train to learn how to drive on the BRTS corridor," Soni said.

Soni may be excited about becoming arguably the first female bus driver in Gujarat, but the work has not been a cakewalk. "The societal status attached with the post of a driver was a hurdle for me. My son was a bit hesitant about me steering a BRTS bus. But I explained to him that I would be system operator and not just a driver, as I will be handling a lot of other operations while driving," she said.