Women’s cab service remains a hard sell in India

Revathi Roy has founded two women-only taxi companies. She reveals why these services have been slow to get off the ground.

Revathi Roy founded a company called Forsche in Mumbai in 2007, a women’s taxi service that hired only female drivers, then she co-founded Viira Cabs, another women-only taxi company. She talks about why these services have been slow to get off the ground in India, despite widespread concerns about safety.

Why did you decide to start a women-only taxi service?

I’m very passionate about driving myself. I saw a niche available where you could get underprivileged women and train them to be able to stand on their own feet. We trained women to drive through the night, change tyres, and gave them karate training.

Was it challenging to set up such a company?

I didn’t have that kind of investment. It is a very high capital expenditure business because every cab is not less than 500,000 (Dh29,300) to 600,000 rupees. I sold that company (Forsche) and [with that money] started another company (Viira Cabs).

How successful have women’s taxi services been in India?

Unfortunately it has still not got the trajectory like it should have. It should have mushroomed into much, much more but that hasn’t happened.

Why do you think that is?

It’s very difficult to get women to come and say that they want to do driving and take it up as a profession. People don’t respect drivers. For somebody to say my daughter or my wife or my sister is a driver is not a win-win situation.

But with the alleged Uber rape case in Delhi, might there be a change?

It’s not going to be a dramatic, overnight change. What are really required are thousands of women drivers.

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Published: December 13, 2014 04:00 AM

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