Taxi service for women gets off the starting line soon in Bangalore
The gang-rape of a woman on a bus in New Delhi last year raised concerns about women’s safety on public transport, and the lack of transport options for women working late. Addressing this need is a new cab service exclusively for women, driven by women.
The brainchild of three friends — advocate Surya Mukundaraj, writer and social activist Manjunatha Adde, and real estate entrepreneur Vinay Chaithanya — the Bangalore-based service is set for a formal launch on October 5. But, word has already got around of their service — they even have a booking for November from a family from Mumbai and a customer has booked for pick up and drop between Bannerghatta Road and her workplace in Peenya every day.
“The taxi profession is largely male dominated. That is when we decided that if we start a cab service driven by women, female passengers will also feel safe,” Mr. Mukundaraj said.
The three of them put up ads in and around Vijayanagar, announcing free training and jobs for women. “Five of them have been trained intensively for three months — one month through simulators. Between the five of them, they are driving three cabs,” he said. The women are paid around Rs. 10,000 a month, including incentives, he added. “They are all from weaker sections of the society, who have studied up to class 10 or 12. Some of them were sitting inside a car for the first time when they started training. We even gave them soft skill training.”
Their most experienced driver is Bharathi V., who was working as a driver for an NGO for five years. “I was doing tailoring earlier. But I needed a job. That’s when I realised that there is a dearth of female drivers in the city and I enrolled myself in a driving school in 2007.”
The cabs have also been fit with ‘panic buttons’ for emergencies. “When the button is pressed, a message reaches our phones and when we call back the number connected to the cab through an Android app, we can hear what is happening on our phones through a microphone in the car. There is a live GPS tracker as well,” said Mr. Mukundaraj. Though the cabs are meant for women, family members accompanying them are allowed.
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