The state government will soon amend an existing law to clear the way for an exclusive radio taxi service for women, which will be operated solely by women drivers.
The Phone Fleet Women taxi scheme is expected to serve lakhs of women in the city, many of whom work odd hours and often face concerns over the safety of their commute.
The transport department will have to amend rule 66A of Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, under which it launched the existing Phone-Fleet Taxi Scheme (PFTS) in 2010.
The old law did not have an exclusively women’s taxi service under it.
Currently, two fleet taxi companies — Priyadarshani taxi service and Viira cabs —operate a dedicated radio cab service for women in the city.
The state government had given these companies permission to run the services as an exception, but they do not have valid permits from the state transport authority and run on tourist permits instead.
“The state government has decided to bring in new rules for radio taxis, including introducing an exclusive radio taxi service for women. We have issued a draft notification on the same and new rules will be finalised soon,” said Shailesh Kumar Sharma, transport secretary.
Radio cab companies that are keen on getting a license for such a service will have to own 100 permits and pay a security deposit of Rs10 lakh with the transport authorities.
“There are lakhs of working women in the city, so why shouldn’t we offer them an option of taxis driven solely by women. This will give them a sense of security,” said the official.
The state government is going to revive more than 15,000 dormant taxi permits in city, of which a certain portion will be reserved for radio cabs.
Currently, 5,500 radio cabs ply on city roads through companies such as Meru Cabs, Easy Cabs, Tab cabs and so on.
The PFTS rules are being amended to restrict permits granted to a single company to ensure healthy competition among service providers.