As on-demand cab services continue to expand rapidly across India, the government has hit upon a clever way to harness their quick growth for societal good.
The Economic Times reports that senior officials of the country’s road transport and highways ministry have instructed Uber to launch training institutes for drivers in small cities and towns to address the growing need for drivers across India.
They told ET that they plan to meet with Ola next to encourage the company to follow suit. The goal is to have these firms train 100,000 drivers a year, with a majority of them being women.
That certainly makes sense for the government: pushing cab companies to train drivers will enable it to further its Skill India initiative – which aims to provide vocational education to 400 million people by 2022 – without investing any funds of its own.
It’s certain to benefit the likes of Ola and Uber as well: the taxi-hailing market is estimated to grow to $15 billion in the next six years, up from just $1.2 billion at present.
The government says it will develop a curriculum for these institutes to follow, and make it easier for drivers to obtain commercial licenses. To do so, it will seek to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to reduce the time period for securing a commercial driving license from a year after receiving a learner’s license down to just three months.
What’s especially interesting about this move is the government’s insistence on training women to drive cabs. In some small towns with more conservative cultures than those of big cities, female passengers will likely feel safer and more comfortable riding a cab with a woman behind the wheel.
Given the high number of instances of sexual assault (one is too high) reported to cab companies across the world, having more women drivers operating cabs should help allay passengers’ fears a fair bit.
We’ve contacted Uber, Ola and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to learn more and will update this post if there’s a response.