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Trusted Taxis (or rickshaws, etc.)

We create a taxi network that recruits drivers via an application process that screens for positive behavior towards women. The number of driving spots is capped to gain an "I want in" feel. It is subsidized by local brands or advertisers so that: the drivers get more money, the women get a discounted fare. Vehicles are overtly identifiable in this network. This means the community sees men that are for the positive treatment of women driving the vehicles - reinforcing that safety is taken seriously by women and men. Drivers being considered are made public so women can anonymously report any incidents that would disqualify them. It could use existing infrastructure/drivers or even better be a women-run business.

Photo of Amy Lanigan
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I like the idea of merging a social goal with a financial incentive (job creation + subsidized drivers/rides). There's also something in empowering women through making them the business owners - or using existing infrastructure that is exciting.

Here's what I'm thinking though - more minds in the mix will be great:

- Somehow insuring that the women riding and the men driving know each other would seem to strengthen this idea (the less anonymity the better). Set routes @ set times? A launch meeting where women meet the drivers in their region?

- Much existing transport may not be networked ie. people use their own vehicles and run their own show. How can this network succeed with huge competition?

- How do we prevent the overt signs of the network from being copied - and used for negative consequences? ie. Painting rickshaws like those in the network to attract women under the guide of being safe.

- How can being in the taxi network be a source of pride in the community vs. a way to single out drivers or others for harm/negative consequences? (especially since it would be known that drivers are making more money than the norm)

Anything else?

Explain your idea in one sentence.

A subsidized taxi network vetted for, and promoting, positive treatment towards women.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

1. A trusted network for women 2. Male role models that are overtly for the positive treatment of women (social proof that this is the norm - or planting a seed of doubt it's not) 3. An incentive to take action on behalf of women's safety 4. Giving women control/an active role in the safety solutions

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The community - both financially through the subsidized portion + new employment. Most importantly though, women. Success would be monitored by usage of service, demand for driver applications, interest in sponsorship, qualitative interviews and ideally reduction of crimes against women.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

An organization local to the community of implementation. Maybe it uses an existing taxi infrastructure. The org would need to understand the context, politics and competition (in the U.S. I think Uber trying to go into NYC with the existing taxi unions).

Where should this idea be implemented?

Ideally where the service would be incremental to existing options vs. competing directly with ingrained one (to avoid conflict). But maybe mixing it up helps take the stand that needs to be taken. Otherwise, set routes at standard times that match when safety issues are most likely to happen.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

It could start with a beta/pilot in a set region where safety is troublesome, capping the number of drivers, set a short time frame and seeding it with a group of women who are willing to try it. The specific community would know best - so that's where we'd need to start. Not sure where this would match the culture and behaviors in a way that would work. Someone on here will have a great suggestion...


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


I like your idea Amy!

I would like to put a few tweaks into the mix...

How about an "opt-in" program in which drivers allow complaints and praise to be to be posted on an internet site. Participation would require a driver to post a profile which includes photos of the driver and his/her vehicle.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Michael, your suggestion brought to mind the bumper stickers in the US that say "How is my driving? Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX." I'm not sure yet where to run with that thought but just putting it out there in case it jogs an idea from you or someone else here.

One thought is that having the opt-in program hosted online might bar access from many do-gooding drivers, who either don't have access or function only in the local language. One alternative idea is to use an SMS- or speech-based service, wherein the passenger would text an ID number of sorts and get feedback on that driver's profile—either through SMS, or a pre-recorded message. Drawing from my experience working and interacting with low-income communities in Hyderabad, I'd venture to say the latter (pre-recorded) is the most promising as it would also give access to illiterate passengers and cater to their language preferences. For example, residents in the Jagadgiri Gutta area of Hyderabad might opt for a Telugu service, while those in the south side of the city / the Old City might choose Urdu.

The potential flaw I see in that idea is the response time. When you're grabbing a rick amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, do you really have a chance to text to request driver profile and then receive that information? Drivers might leave you in the dust. Maybe there could be some incentive/commission structure that make "good drivers" willing to wait for a verification.

Photo of Amy Lanigan

Thanks to you both. I'm new to engagement here and this is so fun.

I think the points about internet access and in-the-moment decision making are so key. Your comments made me think of the Amber Alert system that is used in CA when a child is abducted. Karolle - A twist on your idea is having a text alert system that is fueled by women who give a vehicle identification # of drivers to avoid. So women have a go-to list of vehicles to avoid in hand. Drivers know they can be "black balled" by their behavior.

If vehicles change drivers for different shifts it doesn't work but there's something in this...

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Tasha's safe zone idea comes back to mind here:

But special signage on ricks could be easy to hack, so let's think on that some more...

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