April 11, 2016
As ride-sharing apps continue to grow in popularity (with companies like Uber and Lyft leading the charge), it’s interesting to see new companies emerge into the niche. What could possibly set them apart from the competition, and ensure that riders seek them out over other apps? What are new ways to tackle problems that persist to those already in the ridesharing industry?
Enter Chariot for Women.
Chariot for Women, a Boston, MA-based initiative, is a ridesharing app on a mission – making travel safer for women. Inspired to take action after the various reporting of harassment, sex trafficking, and violence that occurs between female passengers and male drivers, Chariot for Women is a direct response to these incidents. Both the passenger and driver must identify as women to be eligible to ride (male children are also allowed with female guardians present).
Safety remains at the core of Chariot for Women’s mission – all drivers must pass a background check, and riders are provided with a picture of their driver, license plate number and make of the car. Additionally both parties must abide by the passcode system to further ensure safety.
The idea for this system model came to founder Michael Pelletz when he was driving for Uber back in February. His wife and company president, Kelly Pelletz, also puts charitable giving at the core of Chariot for Women’s mission. In the current fare system, 2 percent of each fare is donated to “women-based charities”, with passengers encouraged to choose which charity they would like their donation to go to.
Though Chariot for Women is gearing up for an April 19th launch, some are questioning the legality behind a service that is exclusive to only one gender. It’s also not the first ridesharing app to counter these issues – New York already has SheRides/SheTaxis , which is “tailored to the needs of women” but doesn’t exclude men.
Finding a middle ground that appeases all parties is tricky, especially when other companies within the ridesharing industry have yet to address these pressing issues themselves. But if models like Chariot for Women are going to lead by example, there’s the possibility that they can create a domino effect within the industry, as companies move more towards capitalizing on consumer needs. And for female riders, this often means preference on a company that takes their personal safety seriously.
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