On a day when media personality Rekha Menon arrived in Thiruvananthapuram from Chennai, her cab driver took an unexpected left turn and as luck would have it, the vehicle broke down.
Terrible thoughts crossed her mind as she contemplated dialing 100 but everything turned out just fine. On earlier occasions, she was chased by strangers as she rode her bike through the busy roads of Thiruvananthapuram. She remembers hiding at a petrol pump near the Museum to escape them. So when she heard of the launch of 'She Taxi', she was happy to compere during its launch by Manju Warrier for Gender Park, a new wing under the Social Welfare Department.
“It is a venture of women, by women, for women. More importantly, the car is tracked by a technology centre which gives one confidence," says Rekha Menon. “But I will still tell girls not to announce every little detail of their lives and whereabouts on Facebook."
Aparna Nair, a Technopark employee-cum-writer, says, “Often, Technopark employees like us get stuck at work. Company transports come to our rescue, but in the event of worst scenarios like vehicles breaking down midway at say 8 or 9 pm, we don't need to panic now. My parents are breathing a sigh of relief."
It was in September that the Gender Park put out an ad inviting women drivers. Jaicy Ramesh, who has been driving cars for two decades, wrote to them. Wearing a blue and pink uniform, the colour of the She Taxi, she says, “I am happy to be part of such a venture. I'm not afraid to take my taxi out day and night, or at any hour," she says. Abhilash Pillai, CEO of Rain Concert Technologies Ltd, that is responsible for the safety, operations and marketing of She Taxi, says that a 24-hour control room will not only track the vehicle but also monitor safety conditions such as its speed. “The driver and traveller will have emergency buttons that will alert the control room which has a safety map, mapping over 500 emergency response systems. The drivers will also be equipped with mobile-based applications for safety when they are out of the car."
P.T.M. Sunish, special officer, Gender Park, says, “What we first had in mind was to develop for women, a single button device that would alert the nearest police station. This idea then developed into a safe and security enabled transport system that then became She Taxi. We are really grateful to minister M.K. Muneer for all his support. And the system doesn't cost the government a single rupee. The drivers are the owners. Nowhere else will you find that," he says proudly.
The taxis will be operational from December 1.