After the success of transportation network companies such as Uber and Careem in Pakistan, entering the market now is PAXI (pink-taxi). Launched by PAXI Pakistan Private Limited, it is a taxi service that caters exclusively to women. The soft launch took place on Women’s Day (March 8) in Karachi, and services will officially begin on March 23, 2017.
According to Shaikh Muhammad Zahid, CEO and Co-Founder, Paxi Pakistan, the absence of an efficient transport system has always been a problem in the country, especially for women.
“PAXI has identified this niche and is exclusively offering Pink Taxis for women where they will be accompanied by skilled female drivers called ‘pilots’,” says Zahid.
PAXI claims to be the first registered company with all relevant authorities including the FBR, SECP and KMC. It offers clean, comfortable and air-conditioned taxis as well as accidental insurance coverage. The vehicles, they say, are equipped with fire extinguishers and first-aid medical kits for emergencies. People can book the service via an app, call centre, SMS or by hailing taxis on the road. Zahid says the prices are competitive. “The payment structure is calculated according to the distance and duration of the journey.”
The drivers – or pilots – are students and housewives from middle and lower-middle income segments and aged between 19 to 50 years, who want to help their families financially. Zahid says these women appreciated the platform since they can now earn a living in a safe environment. The minimum education required for the pilots is matriculation.
Along with pink taxis, the company will provide two more services beginning March 23: Bike Taxis and PAXI-Taxi for both men and women.
Currently, PAXI has a fleet of about 10 pink taxis, 23 brand new bikes and 50 taxis/rickshaws. Zahid points out that there are no competitors in the Pink Taxi and Bike Taxi services. “It’s a blue ocean for us,” he remarks.
With regard to the security of the pilots, who can be vulnerable to abuse and misbehaviour on the roads, the company is taking certain measures to ensure the safety of their drivers and passengers.
“We are taking measures to protect them by making sure that all female pilots keep their doors and windows locked at all times. We have restricted their hours to ‘day-time’ only and certain ‘no-go areas’ have been defined,” says Zahid.
Zahid adds that although there are tracker systems in the vehicles, at a later stage the cars will be equipped with a kill switch, camera and pepper sprays. “We cannot take responsibility for law enforcement as that’s not our job but our female pilots are instructed not to take any chances if they do not feel safe,” he says.
In terms of advertising, the company is only focusing on social media and word of mouth at the moment. The company is very optimistic about the launch and will initially focus on corporate clients. The next step for PAXI will be to work towards national expansion. “Once we have control over most of the Karachi market, we will expand quickly to other cities to make sure that we stay the main provider of our related services. Our network can create a strong position for us and make it harder for competitors to enter the market,” says Zahid.