The taxi apps Uber and Lyft have new competition. The app SheRides recently launched in New York City. It connects female passengers with female drivers. Dasha Lisitsina has the story. (00:08)
Dinorah Cruz is just finishing up her working day. It’s a chilly Wednesday afternoon in Queens and I’m getting in the car with her to pick up a passenger, who ends up cancelling. Cruz had worked as a driver for around 30 years. Then she quit to spend some time at home. But when she heard about SheRides she started working again.
CRUZ: That’s when I said: “I’m going back.” Because I feel sure. I’m not scared.
She was scared because there have been cases of sexual assault in taxis. But it’s almost always female passengers who are attacked by male drivers. Cruz feels like she’s less likely to be robbed.
CRUZ: Here we don’t deal with money at all. Here I get people, they don’t pay me anything. Even my tip goes on my app.
Cruz only takes SheRides passengers. SheRides works a bit like Uber, but there’s a crucial difference between the two.
CRUZ: Because Uber, they pick up men, everybody. We pick up only women.
CRUZ: I feel way safer.
That’s also the attraction of SheRides for female passengers. But, at the moment, the demand for female drivers is a lot bigger than the supply. 60% of taxi passengers in New York are women, but only 5% of livery car drivers are and only 1% of yellow taxi drivers are. Stella Matteo, CEO of SheRides, says it’s forced her to also sign up over 3,000 male drivers
MATTEO: Of course we want to cater women to women, like any other services. You know, you have a gym that’s for women. If you go to a gynaecologist, you can request a woman instead of a man. We just want to have a choice (00:10)
For female drivers, SheRides is a job opportunity. Melissa Fisher, currently visiting Professor at NYU doing research in gender and urban studies, says it could create more jobs for women without college degrees.
FISHER: It provides another kind of arena – an industry for women to break into that’s a lower sector income and has perhaps less barriers.
FISHER: It’s not an industry that requires, you know, what I’m calling social capital, having gone and got business degrees and internships and so forth.
Cruz, who’s an immigrant and doesn’t have a college degree, says with SheRides she feels in charge of her time. She’s her own boss.
CRUZ: Here I could drive 5-6 hours: it depends on how I feel.
The company behind the app also operates in Long Island and Westchester, but under a different name: SheTaxis.
Dasha Lisitsina, Columbia Radio News.