KUALA LUMPUR: Having heard so many horror stories of women passengers being robbed, harassed or sexually assaulted while using public transport and ride-hailing services, two best friends decided to create a women-only transport service platform.
Jaspreet Kaur, 34, and Kirajeet Gill, 36, launched their Ladies Only Riders & Drivers (L.O.R.D) service in October last year and so far it has elicited a good response from the public.
Using the L.O.R.D Facebook group page as the platform for prospective passengers to pre-book their rides, the service records an average of 10 trips a day.
“There have been a number of reports of ladies being robbed or harassed by taxi drivers, and even (ride-hailing service providers) Uber and Grab drivers. In fact, I’ve had friends too who were robbed by cabbies.
“Some women would also receive calls and texts from the drivers of e-hailing services as they have their (the women riders’) contact details. These factors played a big part in encouraging me to come up with an idea to protect women who use taxi or e-hailing services,” Jaspreet, a former ambassador for an online fashion website, told Bernama, recently. She is now involved with L.O.R.D full-time.
Lately, a number of cases have been reported in the press of women being robbed and even sexually assaulted by the drivers of e-hailing services.
In May, a 26-year-old pregnant woman was robbed by her Uber driver after she boarded his car in Kuala Lumpur to return to her home in Puchong. The woman was reported to have suffered a miscarriage later.
Last month, a woman in Penang alleged that her Uber driver had taken off his pants and exposed his private part to her.
There was also a report last month of a single mother of two who was allegedly raped by her GrabCar driver near her home at Bandar Putra Permai in Seri Kembangan, Selangor. She told the police that she could not fight him off because she was drunk.
It was also reported last November that a GrabCar driver allegedly flashed himself to his female passenger while sending her to a mall in Petaling Jaya.
Drivers must register with Uber
Almost 100 women have registered themselves as drivers for the L.O.R.D service. Most of them are homemakers who offer their services on a part-time basis.
“It’s a nice way for stay-at-home mothers to earn some extra money as the hours are flexible,” Jaspreet said, adding that some of their drivers were working full-time elsewhere and viewed L.O.R.D as an avenue to earn an extra income.
According to Kirajeet, their drivers must have a valid driving licence, as well as a car that is insured and not more than 10 years old.
The drivers were also required to register with Uber “for safety reasons and to refer to the rates provided by the e-hailing service provider”, she added.
“We refer to Uber’s app as a guideline for us to set the fare according to the distance travelled. Our drivers have to open the app when providing the service.”
In their L.O.R.D Facebook page, the administrators have stated that their group was “not in any way affiliated with Uber or GrabCar”, adding that it was independent and agreements are made between the rider and driver only.
Must pre-book rides
Kirajeet said currently, passengers and drivers were being matched manually through L.O.R.D’s Facebook group page. To use its service, one has to register as a member of the Facebook group first.
To make a booking for a ride, the member has to post the relevant details on the template provided.
“Once we get the confirmation from the passenger, the details of the driver and fare will be sent to her,” Kirajeet said.
Unlike Uber and Grab, where passengers can book and get their rides within a few minutes, L.O.R.D prefers them to book their rides a day earlier.
“We appreciate our riders sending in their requests the day before but sometimes we get requests just five hours before the service is needed. Still, we will try our best to match a driver to them,” Kirajeet said.
Besides trips within the Klang Valley, L.O.R.D also provides its services to women who want to travel to Johor Bahru, Ipoh, Penang and Kuantan.
Extra income helpful
Some of its drivers also send and pick up schoolchildren.
“Some parents will request for the same driver to pick up their children from school and if the driver is agreeable then we will book that slot for her,” Kirajeet said, adding that boys aged 16 and below were allowed to ride in the cars.
Homemaker Loo Joo Ann, 39, from Shah Alam said she started as a driver for L.O.R.D last October after she read about it on Facebook.
The mother of three said the income she earned as a driver came in handy as she used it to pay her household and utility bills, as well as her eldest daughter’s tuition fees.
“I usually pick up my passengers in the morning as most of them are schoolchildren. It also keeps me occupied and allows me to help other women,” she added.
Those interested in registering as a driver or booking a ride can do so via the L.O.R.D Facebook group page.