After the success of its all-women cab network ‘She-Taxi’, the Gender Park in Kerala, a state-owned autonomous institution, is now getting ready to launch ‘She-Bus’, driven and managed exclusively by women for women. The immense success of She-Taxi, touted as the country’s first 24×7 women taxi network, had led the Park, under the state Social Justice Department, to work out a new mode of women-friendly transport system for ordinary women.
The World Bank, which recently hailed the She-Taxi project as a good model of sustainable entrepreneurship, has offered support to the proposed all-women-bus project also. Like She-Taxi, ‘She-Bus’ is also part of the government’s plans to ensure safe journey for women amidst concerns over increasing atrocities against them, State Minister for Social Justice, M K Muneer, told PTI. “We have launched She-Taxi as a safe travel option for one or a group of women. Its success and wide acceptance has given us confidence to think about another project which may appeal to more women in the society,” he said. Gender Park CEO Dr PTM Sunish said the project is planned to be implemented in metro cities in the initial phase. “We are planning to launch She-Bus in capital city Thiruvananthapuram for the first time. It will be rolled out in Kochi and Kozhikode in the next stages. The She-Taxi was also launched in a similar manner,” he said. Under the plan, a set of air-conditioned low-floor buses, with women-friendly features, would be rolled out for service between selected points in the city. Sunish said the fares are also planned to be people friendly as the buses would charge only reasonable amount from passengers as ordinary women are the target group. “Ticket rates will be minimum and reasonable. The commuters can travel several times in a day on the same ticket. Monthly ticket options are also under consideration,” he said. According to PTI, skilled women would be recruited and given training to be moulded as drivers and conductors in the all-women buses. He said though Kerala is a state having plenty of travel options, those which make women comfortable are very few. “She-Taxi has made a difference in this situation for the first time. Women consider She-Taxis as their own vehicles.Many passengers said they felt like home while travelling in the safe cabs, driven by women. We want to create such a ‘we-feel’ among women through She-bus also,” he said. Besides as a safe travel option for women, the Gender Park envisages the She-bus project as a sustainable entrepreneurship model for women. It could also play a role in reducing traffic congestion and air pollution to some extent. Sunish, who was invited to a World Bank conference in Vienna recently to showcase She-Taxi model, said the wide acceptance received by all-women taxi cabs in the country and abroad had given them confidence to go ahead with the proposal of She-bus. The technology-enabled ‘She Taxi’, which is now operated in Kochi and Kozhikode, besides Thiruvananthapuram, has advanced safety and security features that will facilitate immediate aid in case of any emergency situation. Women, who work as cabbies in She-Taxies, earn an average of Rs 15,000-25,000 as monthly income. It has safely ferried over 50,000 travellers since its launch last year.