When one of Shohan Kulasuriya’s best friends died, he was grief stricken. Even worse was when he saw his friend’s wife (who wishes to remain anonymous) and children struggling as she tried to make ends meet as a single working mother. Since she owned a vehicle and knew how to drive, she tried to start driving through the regular platforms and services. This did not work well because she faced a lot of sexual harassment.
Trying to improve upon her idea, Shohan thought it would be a good for her to start accepting only hires for ladies. He posted on Facebook informing people that there was a lady driver looking for hires limited only to women and children. “We had lots of requests and we couldn’t cater to all of them,” says Shohan. When a few other women who saw the post requested to become drivers, the idea of Pink Drives was born.
Launched in mid-September, Pink Drives is a taxi service with 25 full and part time drivers, all of whom are women. The service is welcomed by many women as a safe mode of transport without the risk of sexual harassment and other issues certain male drivers inflict upon women. Similarly, women can consider driving as a source of income without worrying about the risk posed by men. The taxis operate in Colombo and the suburbs, with requests accepted on the basis of availability. Pink Drives operates under Shohan’s software company Deegenics Pvt. Ltd.
The taxi service accepts women of any age with their daughters, while sons must be below the age of 15. A special school service can be arranged for girls above the age of 8 to be taken to school (as long as they are capable of travelling alone), while normal hires can also be arranged for girls above the age of 12 to travel alone. Fare for regular hires are calculated based on distance at a rate of Rs. 50 and upwards per kilometer - budget taxis are Rs. 50. Happy with how well the idea has grown, Shohan hopes to expand to include more drivers so that more women are able to travel safely.
The Pink Drives app is available on the Google Play store and Apple app store. Please note that requests are accepted only on the basis of driver availability.