Taxi Service for Women Making Progress in Tehran

Taxi Service for Women Making Progress in TehranTaxi Service for Women Making Progress in Tehran

In the sprawling metropolitan urban area of Greater Tehran with a population of 13 million, an average of 12 million trips are made via the public transportation services from a total of 20 million on a daily basis.

Women’s share in the urban trips per day is 3 million. Not only do they constitute a large share of commuters, they also have a conspicuous presence as drivers in the public transport system.

In the capital Tehran, where the population and number of cars on the road is rising on a daily basis, and where some commutes within the city limits itself can take up to two hours each way, the use of taxis is an integral part of the transport system.

There are nearly 2,000 women taxi drivers operating in the taxi fleet in the capital, according to Hassan Ashtari, cultural and educational deputy at the Tehran Taxi Management and Supervision Organization.

“Around 70% of these women are breadwinners who are making a living ferrying passengers,” he said at a recent meeting at Tehran Municipality, ISNA reported.

Women make up over 27% of taxi passengers.

The Taxi Transportation Agency began granting licenses to women in Tehran in 2006, although the prevalence of women taxi drivers has become apparent only in the last couple of years.

Tehran was not the first city to make this change in policy, however. The shrine city of Mashhad was the first, as early as the late 1990s, followed by the holy city of Qom.

There are around 700 women cab drivers in Iran who work for taxi services run by women, for women. No male passengers are allowed.

Taxi Bisim Banovan (Ladies’ Wireless Taxi) was formed a few years ago to provide a conducive environment for female travelers in Tehran, where an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 women use private cabs each day. It is exclusively for women taxi drivers and female passengers. Preference goes to those who are married or are family breadwinners. The telephone operators are all women, some of them multilingual to cater to foreign passengers.

  Comfort and Safety Factor

With plans to expand the number of cabs to 2,000 and operate nationwide, the company seeks to promote the profession of women taxi drivers.

Ironically, the agency is headed by a male. Mohsen Oroji, its managing director, however, says, “We are providing service for those women who would be more comfortable in a taxi driven by a woman, and would be wary of traveling alone in a cab with an unknown driver.

The capital’s bus fleet also carries a daily 4.5 million passengers per day, 1.2 million (or more than 27%) of which are women.

The Tehran Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was officially inaugurated in 2008 on eight routes to facilitate vehicular traffic. In 2011, the BRT system had a network of 100 km transporting 1.8 million passengers on a daily basis as against the Tehran Metro that serves 3 million passengers a day. Women have also begun to serve as drivers of this large and heavy means of transport.

Women also make up over 25% of the passengers who choose to use subway services. Every subway train has three (out of seven) women-only coaches.

Women are not subway train conductors yet, but given the trends, the idea is not too implausible, particularly since the metro is projected to have a length of 430 km with 9 lines when completed by 2028.

Ashtari noted that of the total 16,000 school transport drivers, 7,000 are women. “This makes families feel safer and ensures a secure trip for girl students on a day-to-day basis.”

Women as drivers of heavy vehicles such as large transit trucks have also emerged over the recent years.

Fatemeh Moghimi, who heads the Sadid Bar International Transport, one of the top five largest haulage companies in Iran, eventually got her license to drive a truck and over the years has secured licenses for several women in her fleet of (mostly male) drivers.