Woman passengers, who use ride hailing services such as OLa and Uber, may soon be able to choose their own co-passengers. The central government is planning to hold talks with the taxi aggregators to provide an “exclusive women pooling” for women passengers.
The proposed move came in light of multiple incidents of harassment and assault by drivers or co-passengers, Hindustan Times reported citing senior government officials.
The Union road transport and highways ministry will convene a meeting of taxi aggregators soon to discuss the issue.
“This is one option we are mulling to enhance safety of women using shared taxi services. We strongly feel that women passengers using ride hailing services should have the option to choose their co-passengers,” a senior government official told daily.
The idea, however, was originally mooted by Union women and child (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi who had called for greater accountability from the taxi aggregators rather than simply washing their hands off by dismissing the accused drivers, Times of India reported.
The trigger for the latest proposal was the June 5 incident in which an Ola cab driver in Bengaluru allegedly molested a woman passenger and forced her to strip. The driver was subsequently arrested.
Speaking with Hindustan Times, an Uber spokesperson said over the last few years, Uber has introduced many safety features for riders and drivers and will continue to innovate.
“We are committed to working with the government and other stakeholders towards partnering on road as well as rider, driver safety initiatives and moving our cities forward,” he added.
In 2016, the road ministry had asked taxi aggregators to have an emergency response centre to handle SOS alerts, and allow passengers to share ride details with their friends or family.