On the busy streets of New York City, hailing a taxi can be impossible at times. And if you’re looking for one with a female driver? Well, the odds of finding that can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
That’s because fewer than three percent of the 115,000 licensed taxi, livery and limousine drivers in New York City are female. So for women who may not be comfortable with a male driver due to safety, religious or social reasons, the options are severely limited.
Which is why Stella Mateo invented SheRides – an app that quickly locates and orders a cab driven by a woman. (Stella is the wife of Fernando Mateo, the founder of the New York State Federation of Taxis.)
So, how does the app work? Once it’s downloaded, the user can search for a female driver nearby throughout New York City, Westchester County, N.Y. and Long Island, N.Y. Requested drivers are easy to spot curbside because they’re outfitted with a pink scarf.
Not only is the app making riders feel secure, but it’s also encouraging female drivers to get back into the taxi business, like 64-year-old Dinorah Decruz, who is coming out of a year of retirement. After being almost robbed by a male customer, the ability to focus on female clients makes Decruz feel safer.
Currently, about 100 female drivers have registered with the app, and while Mateo planned to launch it this month, she’s decided to wait until she has 500 drivers enrolled to help ensure its success.
Right now, though, she hopes that it will inspire more women to join the profession. After all, the app offers a safe and comfortable atmosphere — for both driver and passenger — which is exactly how 66 year-old Bronya Shaffer feels. “It’s having one more opportunity in our whole world, in all of our interactions everywhere, to know that I can choose to have a woman if I want,” she tells Times Union. “It’s kind of nice.”
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