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Between Lyft, Uber, Gett and handful of other services, it seems like there’s a new, apparently derivative, taxi app launching every month. But SheTaxis, which launches in New York City, Long Island and New York’s Westchester County on Sept. 16, offers something truly different: its drivers are all women, and so are its customers.
SheTaxis, which will be called SheRide in NYC because of laws limiting who can use the word taxi, is the brainchild of Stella Mateo, a mother of two girls and wife of the founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers. Her company works just like Uber or Lyft, allowing customers to order a car using a smartphone app, except that the SheTaxis app also asks whether there is a woman in the user’s party. If not, the New York Times reports, the app automatically recommends other taxi services.
While SheTaxis is a new addition to the New York area, the idea of female-specific transportation is not a new idea — especially internationally. India, in addition to offering women-only train cars, is home to a taxi business of the same name and concept. New Zealand’s Cabs for Women also operates on the same premise as SheTaxis, providing female drivers to an exclusively female clientele. These services are generally marketed toward women concerned about sexual harassment from male drivers. According to the Times, New York City’s taxi industry is dominated by men. Only 5% of the city’s taxis — and 1% of its yellow cabs — are driven by women.
Recent examples of taxi harassment have demonstrated the need for a company like SheTaxis. In an article for the Daily Beast, Olivia Nuzzi recapped multiple instances of sexual harassment from male Uber drivers. A June report from LA Weekly described another incident in which an Uber driver allegedly “touched [a female passenger’s] face, asked her to go to the beach, and kept an interior light on, possibly to look at her” during a routine trip.
Mateo told the Times she wished there were women-only taxis available when her children were young and needed to be ferried around the city to various activities. She now hopes SheTaxis will help more women become taxi drivers.