Stalked by fear

Cab Services

Stalked by fear

After the Uber rape incident in Delhi recently, those who avail cab services are having second thoughts. Though the State Transport Department has asked cab drivers to implement additional regulations issued by them, Bengalureans have their own fears.

Sindhu Narayanan, a hairstylist, says that she was unnerved by the incident but life goes on. “I am always alert when I hire a cab. After the incident, one cannot really trust any service. When I take a cab, I send my location and driver details to my father and my brother-in-law, so that they know where I am and do not worry,” says Sindhu. She adds, “I do feel worried sometimes, but I haven’t had any bad experiences yet. Also, who would want to go in an auto when you can travel for almost the same price in the luxury of a cab?”

Public transport services had come under spotlight after the ‘Nirbhaya’ incident. But people like Nimrita Kannan, a BCom student, says that buses are safer compared to cabs. “There is the hassle of finding a place to sit, but there are always people around even if anything happens,” she says. She adds that most of her friends who used to hail cabs have gone back to using autorickshaws. Her friend, Salma Shaheer, another student, says that in an autorickshaw one can always jump off, if something untoward happens. “One has bleak chances of escaping from a cab, which is centrally locked, when being driven,” she points out.

Regular cab users like Pragya PR, an IT professional, feel that cabs are always the top option after a late-night party. “Rather than driving after drinking, I used to call for a cab. But now, I prefer to crash at my friend’s place or I ask my friends or family to pick me up,” she says.

Others like Priyanka Gulge, a professional make-up artist who commutes by cabs daily, says that Bengaluru mostly has well-mannered cab drivers. “They have always been nice to me. I stay in an area which is quite deserted by 9 pm and I have used cab services at that time. There have been times when I have told the cab driver to stop at the main road, so I could get off and board an autorickshaw, but the cab drivers insisted that they have to drop me where they have been designated to,” she says. She adds that she doesn’t use cab services or travel at night after 11 pm since that can be unsafe. “One has to be alert and careful all the time,” she adds.

Cab drivers have their own point of view. “Young women should also be responsible, especially when travelling late hours,” says a cab driver (who didn’t want to be named). He adds, “We often have passengers who are skimpily clad and who are drunk. They even throw up in the cab.  Parents should also keep a check on what their children are doing.”

The cab providers in the City have been instructed to include all safety regulations issued recently. Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and director of ‘TaxiForSure’, vouches that the ‘Track a Taxi’ feature they offer, lets one’s family and friends track a taxi while you’re in it. “Share the message you get when you book a taxi with us, which contains the ‘Track Taxi’ link. This works as a personal tracker.” She says that the company has always made it a point to complete mandatory formalities like tracking personal documents, which include police verification document, address proof and the yellow badge and vehicle documents like driving licence, vehicle insurance, taxi permit papers etc.

She adds that the service also have a GPS tracking of the drivers for passenger safety. “In case the GPS is turned off by a driver the control room gets an alert and the passenger is called by our call center team to ensure passenger safety. We later take this up with the concerned driver and the operator and penalise them if it’s a violation of the SLA (Service Level Agreement),” she says.

Other cab operators like Carzonrent, whose radio taxi brand is ‘Easy Cabs’, vouch that they will keep a vigilant check on the records of drivers. “With this unfortunate incident, there are many layers of security, safety and training measures that will be added. Apart from the geo-fencing technology that our cabs are operated on which keeps a check on the cabs and provides alerts when a cab changes route, we will continue to carry our strong training procedure,” says Sakshi Vij, executive director with Carzonrent. “We also wish to continue our service of cross-checking with women passengers who travel late in the night if they are comfortable with the driver,” she adds.

B Dayananda, additional commissioner of police (traffic), says that though the regulations have been issued by the law and order section of the police, the Bengaluru Traffic Police will collaborate with them to make travelling safe for everyone. “We will work towards getting the guidelines implemented. We want to ensure safety of passengers travelling by any mode of transport in the City and we will work together with the police to ensure background verification of the drivers happen. This will ensure a foolproof system.”

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