Uber was the news in recent weeks again for mistreating its women passengers, and the incidents have just kept piling up, raising serious questions about their systems and safety. In a bid to do some damage control, the app-based private taxi service has hired its first group of female drivers to re-instill faith amongst its wavering pool of loyal customers.
To that effect, 20 hires have been made so far, to ply on the roads of Bombay. This would especially be a helpful service in a city full of independent women, that never sleeps. The need for women drivers arose after repeated incidents of sexual abuse, attempted molestation, harassment, and indecent behavior were reported against the private taxi’s drivers in the past six months itself. And these incidents were not restricted to country’s “rape capital” Delhi – a woman recently complained of being treated unprofessionally in Bombay as well.
One of the newly hired drivers is 29-year-old Samina Bhokiya, who recently joined the company. “Women feel safe when I ferry them from airport to residence or from one part of the city to another,” she said to Times of India, “Our customers express surprise when they see me (woman driver) and it gives woman passenger a sense of security, especially during late night hours.”
Her colleague, Aarti Mohite agrees. “Some of the men driving taxis are reckless and rude, and are out there to fleece you. We need to weed them out from the trade, which is why there is a need for women drivers,” she said. “With women cabbies around, the commuters will feel safe and can enjoy a comfortable ride from airport or station to home without having to press the SOS button on a mobile app,” she added.
And the job is a rather lucrative opportunity for female drivers. Samina herself earns upto Rs 3,000 per day, TOI reports, and could possibly be one of the highest paid woman cabbies in the city. And she confirms that this arena will be opened up to more women, as they intend to make 80 more hires in due course.
“Unlike the fleetcabs, we have a lot of incentives while working for aggregators. In fact, at Uber, I have zero waiting time as the demand for cabs is so high in Mumbai. The moment I drop a passenger, I get another one on my mobile app, and so on. I am assured of earning upto Rs 3,000 daily,” she revealed.
The Uber women drivers undergo modules on etiquette, behavioural skills and code of conduct. And amongst their special instructions are always greeting customers with a smile, and “wishing customers a happy journey after they alight at the airport” and “ensuring they get a proper bill,” Samina revealed.
Many other cab services are applauding the move, and are set to follow suit. An Ola Cab official said to TOI, “We are encouraging women to undergo a training programme and drive cabs for Ola. We believe in women empowerment.”
This is an aggregator, which means the women drivers are allowed a degree of freedom, as they can switch off the app and switch back to their personal commitments.
“It is heartening to see more women join as cabbies. We have 30 in our fleet, and will expand to 100 drivers by year end,” said Susiieben Shah of Priyadarshini Taxis, a company that only hires women cabbies and has been around for over a year. Meru Cabs has also announced their intention of recruiting women drivers too.
Image Credits: Nypost