'Finally': All-female taxi service DriveHer ready to hit Toronto roads
Project launches with the goal of increasing women's safety in taxis
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The latest entrant into Toronto's ride-sharing scene has one particularly important distinction: Both the driver and the passenger have to be women.
After nearly two years of groundwork navigating through the city's bureaucracy, DriveHer, a ride-sharing platform exclusively run and used by women, is set to launch this Friday with over 100 female drivers already signed up to hit the road. Its arrival adds to the city's ever-growing car-sharing industry, from Uber to Lyft, InstaRyde, Facedrive and Taxify.
"Finally," said the company's founder Aisha Addo, expressing excitement about getting through the process and the prospect of sending registered female drivers on the roads.
"It was exhausting. There were many times I felt like giving up and let go, but someone would then call or message me asking about the service and when we're launching. That really kept me going. It was quite a journey."
Touting itself as an alternative for women who may otherwise feel uncomfortable or unsafe to ride in male-driven vehicles, DriveHer has secured a licence from the city to operate as a private transportation company. Its insurance coverage is provided by Northbridge Insurance, and all the drivers underwent a rigorous background check, according to Addo.
Users of DriveHer will have a range of access to services through the app, including pre-scheduling options, safety tips and built-in emergency buttons in case they need immediate assistance while in the car.
While the company will initially operate in Toronto and the GTA, the plan is to gradually expand throughout the country.
Addo, who is also the founder of Power to Girls Foundation, said DriveHer is both about safety and empowerment of women. In a male-dominated industry like taxi driving, incidents of sexual harassment, prying personal questions or lewd comments have been reported in Toronto and across the country.
Last year a Halifax cab driver was acquitted of a sexual assault charge involving an intoxicated female passenger. The judge outraged many in the community when he notoriously declared that "a drunk can consent." The decision has since been overturned and a new trial is pending.
Another Halifax cab driver is on trial this week facing sexual assault allegations.
By putting more women behind the wheel, Addo believes female passengers will have an option to choose instead of feeling threatened or trapped.
"We do hope that every woman will use our platform, but it's okay if some of them want to use other services," she said of potential backlash from other industry operators. "There's no segregation. I just want women to feel safe when they are on a ride."
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