Cabs for Women, by Women: Could Ola Succeed Where Others Have Failed?
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
G-cabs, one of the taxi companies operating in Gurgaon lists the following as a perk of availing their services: “A Panic button, at both the passenger’s and chauffeur’s end- assuring a safe journey.” In the aftermath of the Uber rape case, this seems like an extremely helpful feature for a taxi service to have. However, what it also points out is that some of the solutions women are looking for in terms of safe travel are already available – at least on paper. There are at least four cab operators in the NCR region which offer women-only services – Vira, Priyadarshini, G-cabs, Sakha – however, people still tend to resort to services like Ola and Uber. A report on The Times of India today points out that Ola cabs now plan to make their services more women-friendly by launching a line of ’by women, for women’ cabs. The move comes after threats of banning cab aggregating services like those of Uber and Ola.
The same report answers the question as to why, despite the existence of several all-women cab services, women have to avail other services despite knowing the risks involved. “While millions of dollars have been pumped in by investors like Japan’s Softbank into new-age cab aggregators like Ola, the women-only cab companies have found it tough going due to lack of funding” the report states.
Another article published on Quartz following the Uber tragedy pointed out how the services of these women-only cab companies were dodgy and unavailable at most times. The real problem plaguing these services, pointed out Revathi Roy who started the now defunct Forsche, was lack of funding that translates into lack of services. Quoting Roy, “Unlike popular radio taxi companies like Meru or Easy Cabs that can afford to buy 500 cars at a time, Roy said women-centered taxi services start with minimal seed money and capital, operating more like non-profits or social enterprises than business ventures. That’s true of both Sakha and Priyadarshini, a Mumbai-based taxi company started by Susieben Shah, a politician, that currently operates with 25 cars.”