Laxmi Jadhav, who has broken all the stereotype, is likely to start on May 27 or 28, after Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray along with State tourism and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray will flag off the first ride. Jadhav will drive the bus route between Dharavi bus depot and south Mumbai.
This Mulund resident has been hired by wet lease operator Mateshwari Urban Transport Solutions Pvt Ltd (MUTSP) that runs around 400 buses in Mumbai on behalf of BEST undertaking.
A total of three women drivers were selected, however, other two women drivers are being trained by the transport body to operate the buses.
Jadhav has been a driving enthusiast since childhood and was the first woman to get an autorickshaw permit from Wadala RTO in 2016. She has done odd jobs with transport agencies earlier where she learnt to drive luxury cars like BMW and Mercedes. She has always received support from her husband in her professional pursuits.
She also said that she was attracted to the job of a BEST driver as it provides a stable income and provident fund. She had enrolled in Dindoshi depot to learn to drive BEST buses and received the license in 2019.
Meanwhile, the decision to introduce women as bus drivers and conductors was taken in January. They have been introduced under wet lease model, under which contractors paid per kilometre provide buses with staff. Around 70 women bus conductors will work in these buses and another 100 conductors may be introduced later.
BEST was established in 1926. Meanwhile, BEST began operating buses in the city under the Bombay Municipal Corporation on August 7, 1947.