'She-taxis' of Kerala to become car pool facility too

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 18 : The recently introduced 24x7 taxi service owned and operated by women entrepreneurs for female travellers, called "She-Taxi," is to add a new facility, car pooling, a state government official said Wednesday.

The "She-Taxis" were launched last month in the Kerala capital, and ferries only women passengers. The vehicles are also driven by women.

The "She-Taxi" project was initiated by Gender Park, a new branch of the state government's department of social justice, meant to unify all activities aimed at achieving gender equality in the state.

"Gender Park now will roll out a facility of 'car pooling' as part of the She-Taxi services for women commuters. This is expected to aid professionals and students who travel to the city everyday from the suburbs and outskirts," said Gender Park CEO P.T.M. Sunish in a press statement issued Wednesday.

The rates for the car pooling service will depend on the distance each traveller travels, and will be fixed by the driver.

The She-Taxi, which started with five cars, is all set to expand to a fleet of 25 cars from the new year. In three months, it is expected that 100 vehicles on city roads will be part of the She-Taxi service.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is partnering with Gender Park as the official supplier of the customised pink-and-white cabs.

The cars will have facilities like GPS, precision metering systems, personal and emergency alert systems, in-car entertainment and other luxuries.

Fleet operations and marketing are handled by the Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies Ltd, and a round-the-clock call centre will be set up for the purpose.

The taxis will have access to the control room through the day and night, and will be monitored and assisted by police.

Since its launch last month, She-Taxi has seen tremendous response, especially during the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram.

"Looking at how successful it has proved in one month, more women entrepreneurs now want to operate their own taxis," Sunish told IANS.

"Car pooling is certainly going to bring down the cost of travel. We are waiting for it, because if three of us travel together, it would cost us less in that taxi than in an autorickshaw that each of us hires separately," T. Mridula, an engineer working at the IT campus in Technopark said.

All cabs are metered, and equipped with an electronic payment system that allows commuters to use credit or debit cards while paying the fare. Customers could also pay in cash.

The control room also tracks the taxis in real time, using GPS.

--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)

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