EghtesadOnline: In the metropolis of 12 million people were 19 million commutes are reported, from 80,000 taxi drivers working with the Tehran Taxi Organization barely 1,400 are women. The organization’s chief says the TTO is in the process of facilitating the employment of female cabbies.
“Over the years female Taxi drivers have not received the backing they deserve. Women taxi services will be re-launched and more will be employed by the TTO,” Alireza Ghanadan was quoted as saying on the company’s website.
“The meager share of female drivers in the Tehran’s taxi fleet is unfair. Most of the cabs used by female drivers are old and dilapidated.”
He added that there is expressed demand for such services in Tehran. “Women drivers can and should contribute to the expansion of public transport services in the sprawling capital,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
The organization is drawing plans for re-launching the services and talks are underway with investors. TTO is yet to announce whether the female drivers will be employed in a women-only taxi service or they will work along their male peers offering services to all.
For renovating their vehicles female cabbies can participate in the government-backed taxi renovation scheme introduced in 2016 named Nosazi. For participating in the scheme, tax drivers are required to register their old clunkers on the website Nosazi.org.
According to the website, the cars need to be over ten years old to be eligible for enrollment. Through the scheme, drivers get 200 million rials ($4,600) in loan at 16% which they are required to repay in 48 installments of 5.7 million rials ($132) a month.
Hassan Ashtari, cultural and educational deputy at TTO says, “Almost 70% of female taxi drivers are breadwinners who make a living ferrying passengers.”
Female drivers are playing a significant role in school transport services sector. According to Ashtari from a total of 16,000 school transport drivers in 2016, close to 7,000 were women.
A large portion of the cars used for the purpose are not taxis and the female drivers work part-time with private transport agencies which take children to and from school for a monthly fee. Ashtari is of the opinion that “knowing the driver is female makes families feel safer and ensures a secure trip for girl students on a day-to-day basis.”
The Taxi Transport Agency began granting licenses to women in Tehran in 2006. However, the capital was not the first to make this change in policy. The shrine city of Mashhad was the first to allow women cabbies in the late 1990s followed by the holy city of Qom.
Competition From Private Sector
TTO is not alone in wanting to employ more women drivers to address the growing demand for such services.
Iran’s major ride-hailing service providers Snapp and Tap30 are also employing female drivers and offer women-only services.
The TTO’s own ride-hailing app Carpino has a section for female-only services.
In addition to Tehran, Tap30 and Snapp are active in other major cities and offer similar services.
Not Limited to Taxis
Talented and ambitious Iranian women have proved their prowess in various social, economic, and political areas. In addition to driving cabs they have made inroads in other fields of transportation as well.
For instance, the Tehran Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has employed female drivers since inception in 2007. There are several intracity female bus drivers in Iran.
Women as drivers of heavy vehicles such as large transit trucks have also been seen over the years. Fatemeh Moghimi, who heads the Sadid Bar International Transport, one of the top five haulage companies in Iran, eventually got her license to drive a truck and has helped secure licenses for several women in the fleet dominated mostly by men.
Women are not subway train conductors yet, but given the trends, the idea is not implausible.
Women constitute almost half of Iran’s 80 million population and mostly work as teachers, nurses, clerks and admin staff.