A pink cab on duty. Not many are seen on Bengaluru roads, though. DH Photo by B H Shivakumar
Women aren't taking to driving cabs in a big way. Which means there's a road hump ahead for pink autos as well.
Autos will soon come in pink. Equipped with GPS-enabled tracking and driven by women, the autos are driven by women, and meant exclusively for women passengers.
Bengaluru already has a host of services in pink: cabs, Hoysala, and even seats on BMTC buses.
The biggest challenge for pink cab services has been finding women drivers. Pink cabs were announced for the first time in India in Bengaluru, but not many are visible on the roads.
Go Pink cabs are equipped with GPS, pepper spray, and panic buttons, and are meant exclusively for women passengers. In fact, the enterprise is women-driven.
Anuradha B M, co-founder of Go Pink Premium Cabs, says hiring women cab drivers is not easy.
"Our network reaches out to Whitefield and HSR Layout and we hope to expand our area of operations soon. But we need to find more drivers, and that has been a challenge," she says.
Sharmista BS, a homemaker who uses cabs often, says pink cab services are not an option.
"Since they are driven by women, they don't go everywhere and at all times. When the cab driver doesn't feel safe at work, how can a passenger be? These services need foolproof security systems," she says.
Sowmya Prakash, project manager with an MNC, has seen pink Hoysalas parked across the city, but with men sitting inside.
"More women should be present in the vehicles and the vehicles should be on patrol, not parked," she says.
T Suneel Kumar, commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City says pink patrols now number 108.
"Each pink Hoysala has a woman police officer or woman constables and two or three male personnel. Of 6,000 calls we get every day, about 400 to 500 require pink patrol intervention," he explains.
Suneel Kumar says more vehicles are coming up with women police personnel.
Pink seats on BMTC buses are welcome, but aren't always used by women, says Swapna Narayanswamy, administrator and project coordinator with an MNC.
"Most buses are crowded during peak time and one finds men sitting on women's seats," she observes.
She calls for spot fines and stringent implementation of rules.
Sharmista adds, "If pink autos are to come in, fixed and structured rates and distance-friendly rides should be assured to all passengers. Else the purpose is lost."