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Sample Idea: No More Dark Buses Campaign

Let’s hold bus drivers accountable for defending the rights of women riders!

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
23 26

Written by

Provide a short description of your idea

My idea is an SMS-based campaign to make buses safer for women. It tackles the problem of women getting harassed at night in Kathmandu on buses where the inside lights are not illuminated. It addresses the problem by setting up a free SMS line for women to report dark buses, and using the information collected to get the local government to take action.

There is no good reason a bus should be dark. Public buses are fueled by public funds, and should therefore be as safe as possible for all citizens. In some cases, the problem is that municipal transportation agencies have let certain buses fall into disrepair. In others, conductors simply refuse to turn on the internal lights, leaving the women on board vulnerable to abuse.

“No More Dark Buses” is a campaign that will start in Kathmandu. We will encourage women to report the bus number of any bus without lights on via a free text-in number using the #darkbus. The list of buses reported will be shared with the local transportation authority and read over the radio to increase public awareness. This will put greater pressure on both transportation authorities and bus drivers to ensure all buses are lit at night.

The campaign will be advertised via radio and on stickers and flyers on bus stops and neighborhoods.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

The “No More Dark Buses” campaign is a citizen-driven campaign that holds bus drivers and municipal bus authorities responsible for making public vehicles safer for women.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Women are often harassed while using public transportation, but have very little recourse. Many women in cities like Delhi and Kathmandu report that bus conductors often leave the lights within their vehicles off at night (or don’t repair lights that have stopped working), which provides perpetrators of sexual harassment with greater opportunity to strike.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

Women and girls commuting during the evening. The effectiveness of this idea can be monitored by interviewing women after providing materials and investigating if they felt safe to use them. It can also be tested by riding with women and girls and seeing how bus conductors respond to the use of tools. We could also interview bus conductors and asses the campaign’s impact on their behavior.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

Our organization, the Kathmandu Women’s Network for Transportation Safety, would like to lead implementation of this project. We’ll work together with the local government, municipal transportation authorities, and other local NGOs to spread the word for the campaign.

Where should this idea be implemented?

​This idea could be implemented anywhere, but we are based in Kathmandu, so we’ll start there.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

We could prototype the idea by printing some cheap stickers with the text-in number on them and monitoring the calls ourselves for a period of one week. During the trial phase, we’ll try to understand whether women would be willing to report dark buses, and call back women who have used the system to learn more about their motivations and hopes for the campaign.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Check out our experience map in the visual gallery.

Evaluation results

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Sonal Shah

Hi Luisa,
I have been refining and focusing my idea to make it more specific - conducted sample surveys with women and conversations with the bus authority.

Looking at the idea here, one specific question I have is - should we focus on one aspect? Would really appreciate your thoughts!

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