Divya Kalia spent hours standing outside metro stations in Gurgaon to talk to commuters if a two-wheeler taxi service exclusively for women would help. Hundreds of them said “yes”. So, on January 14, Kalia along with her husband Mohit Sharma started Bikxie Pink (that’s the colour of the Scootys used as taxis), driven by women, only for female commuters.
Let’s call it Pink, as Bikxie has something called “Bikxie Blue” --- bikes driven by men for male commuters, launched two week before Pink.
Megha Goyal, marketing manager with Beyond Evolution Tech Solutions took her first Scooty ride on Friday, to her home in Gurgaon. She paid Rs 20 for a four kilometer journey. “An auto would charge Rs 50-60. This is not only cheaper, but I am more comfortable riding pillion with a woman, and it is faster, too,” says Goyal.
Kalia wanted to solve the last mile problem. She travelled to Gurgaon in a metro everyday in her previous job with Boston Consulting Group --- she would struggle to get an auto. Even if she got one, they would charge a bomb. Pink charges Rs 10 for the first two kilometers and Rs 5 for every additional one.
So far, Pink has already done 100 rides, with just five bikes. In total, Bikxie has clocked 2,400 rides. “We are looking at an equal split between the Blue and Pink, but even if Pink makes for 40% of our business I will be happy,” says Sharma.
Harassment of women by cab drivers is an opportunity Sharma wants to cash on, so, “if you are a woman and you look for a taxi on the Bikxie app, only the woman pilots will be shown,” says Sharma.
However, the two-wheeler taxi business faces regulatory hurdles. The Motor Vehicle Act doesn’t allow two-wheelers to be used as taxis. It has been opened up only in the state of Haryana and Goa. Delhi and Karnataka governments are looking at amendments in the next couple of months. “Once that happens we will open up in Bangalore and Delhi,” says Sharma, who plans to take the fleet size to over 5,000 bikes in the next six months.
Taking extra care of women safety and hygiene, the Pink drivers carry pepper spray, and a disposal shower cap to wear inside the helmet. Kalia is eagerly waiting for Delhi and Bangalore to open up. “We will get rid of the harrowing experience women face using public transport,” she says.