Fem Taxi – Female-only taxi service proving a big success
ONE OF the fastest-growing new businesses in the city of Medellin, Colombia isn’t narcotics, or high-tech, or coffee. It’s…a female-only taxi service. “Fem Taxi” opened only in November 2011 with 30 vehicles, but has already had to treble the number of employees due to such high demand. There is one female driver currently, so most of the work is done by men. The difference with Fem Taxi is that it accepts only female passengers. The drivers get trained in female psychology and in women’s rights, and are required to have five years of driving experience as well as a no criminal record.
Fem Taxi will be denoted by a pink T located on the dashboard of the vehicle and will seek to improve the security situation of women in the city. There are currently 100 Fem Taxis available, with the intention of expanding the taxi cooperative to 1,400 cars and drivers by the middle of the year.
Maria Eugenia Fernandez is the only female driver so far hired to the Fem Taxi service and she says she feels proud to be associated with the initiative, also known as Pink Taxis for the Pink T located on the vehicle. Fernandez says that the drivers being hired for the programme “have been receiving workshops, talks and training regarding women.” Despite being the only female driver in the fleet so far, Fernandez hopes that many more women drivers will soon become involved.
Fem Taxi user Mayra Torrente, “I think it’s a great idea, because women are more vulnerable when it comes to facing risks.”
Travelling around Medellin and other parts of Colombia isn’t the safest thing you can do, so Fem Taxi is supposed to be a particularly safe mode of transport for women. And obviously, women are already using the service en masse. But the service also does another thing: it’s removing the prevalent stigmas attached to taxi drivers in the region, who are often portrayed as being involved with illegal underground business.
However, we’re just left wondering: why can’t there be a safe taxi service for men too? Women may be somewhat more vulnerable passengers, but it’s not like gents are bulletproof, are they?