A group of Cuenca women are in discussions with city officials to establish a Cuenca Pink Taxi service, similar to those in other cities around the world. Pink taxis give preference to women and other vulnerable groups.
Owners of taxi companies say the service is not needed and that it would compete unfairly with licensed drivers.
Pink taxi advocates say the numbers of units they are proposing would be small and would not be a business threat to taxi companies. They also say that their service would not be necessary if taxi companies did a better job of policing their drivers. They say that pink taxis operate in the U.S., Australia, Argentina, France, India, and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.
Ligia Mendez, who represents the organization 50,000 Cuencanos Against Crime, says pink taxies are necessary because of higher rates of crime against women in traditional taxis. “I was robbed in El Valle of $2,000 that I had intended to give to my brother,” she said. “The driver had accomplices and they took advantage of me because I was a woman.”
She adds that older women and the handicapped are often bypassed by taxis. “Taxi drivers don’t want to spend the extra time helping those who are vulnerable,” she says.
Taxi union representative Lina Castillo, also a member of 50,000 Cuencanos, says pink taxis are not needed because of recent safety improvements. “All taxis now have the panic button if passengers feel threatened,” she says. “In most cases, police respond within a few minutes to an alert and know where the taxi is by GPS.”
“If you have a separate taxi service for women, you create an unfair system that promotes discrimination among,” Castillo says. “I urge the city government to support efforts to improve current taxi service instead of allowing a special one to be established.”
According to organizers, Cuenca Pink Taxi has 25 members.