CHENNAI: Taxis with a ray of printed pink blocks along the sides stood outside Hotel Savera like neatly packed gifts, complete with soft pink ribbons above the headlights. Gifts they were, to both women drivers and passengers. Driven by and for the women, the Penntaxis will soon be seen whizzing past on Chennai roads.
“I have seen women getting into packed share autos, where men and women keep pushing each other for space. This initiative will put an end to that,” says bike racer Alisha Abdullah, who was present at the launch on Thursday. While she is kicked about the fact that the initiative, the first of its kind in the country, is happening ‘in her city’, actor Ramya Krishnan, also present on the occasion, sees it as an instrument that would bring down the crime rate in the long run.
Penntaxi is the brainchild of ‘Helping Hands’, a social wing of Dutchess Club, to help the underprivileged. Their earlier activities have dealt with educating girl children. Encouraging women drivers was something they took to after one of their sponsorers suggested so. While most are apprehensive about driving being a profession for women, what entrusted Nina with the idea was something that she personally witnessed a decade ago. “We had just introduced women valet in Savera Hotel then. I used to stand and observe how they are doing. One day I saw actor Suriya drive in and give his keys to a woman valet driver almost nonchalantly. It didn’t matter if it was a woman or a man,” she says.
The drivers of the brand new taxis are the ones who managed valet parking at Savera. They would be driving around the city, offering private services and pick-up and drops for corporates. “We have started off with just three taxis as of now. We would like to get a feedback of how they are doing and then bring out more depending on the requirement,” says Nina.
What more, the women are also being trained in self-defence by Krav Maga instructor Sriram for a couple of weeks. “They will be independent and good to go by July 1,” says Nina. That apart, taxis will have the GPRS facilities and necessary security measures.