Kerala to launch taxis by women, for women

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 8 : Kerala will this month introduce a 24x7 taxi service, dubbed "She Taxi", owned and operated by women entrepreneurs for female travellers.

The "She Taxi" project has been initiated by the Gender Park, newly set up by the department of social justice, to unify all activities aimed at achieving gender equality.

The pilot service will be launched in Thiruvananthapuram Nov 19 with an initial fleet of five cars. The number of cars is expected to rise up to 100 in three months.

There are also plans to extend the service to Kochi and Kozhikode in the next phase.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. is partnering with the 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.

The Gender Park will identify the beneficiaries and assist women in securing low-interest loans from the Kerala State Women's Development Corporation.

It will also arrange for health insurance and provide self-defence training to women drivers.

The fleet operations and marketing will be handled by Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies Ltd. It will set up a 24-hour call centre for the purpose.

The taxis will have round-the-clock access to the control room and they will be monitored and assisted by police.

"A safe and reliable mode of travel for women on the move is perhaps a long-overdue service. 'She Taxi' is going to be a milestone for the public sector," said Kerala's Minister for Social Justice M.K. Muneer.

"We know of women-driven taxis operated by private firms and NGOs, but this is the first initiated by a government platform and we will make sure this becomes a model for everyone to follow," Muneer added.

Gender Park CEO P.T.M. Sunish said they have developed a business model for the "She Taxi" which projects a monthly income of at least Rs.20,000 for the women entrepreneurs.

"We believe it will be possible to earn around Rs.20,000 a month for an estimated eight hours of operation every day for 22 days a month. We are also thinking of maximising revenues for these women through adverts on the sides of the cars, in-car LCD systems for streaming ads and so on," Sunish said.

The "She Taxis" will initially carry only women passengers travelling alone, in groups or accompanying families. If the initiative turns out to be a success, authorities are keeping open the option of carrying men also.

--IANS (Posted on 08-11-2013)

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