The internet is full of stories cataloging the horrors women have faced when using ride-sharing apps. Both female passengers and drivers for popular ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft have reported being sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted. But now, a new way of doing ride shares that takes women’s safety seriously is here.
Safr, a ride-share app based in Boston, is a brand new service that has women’s needs at the forefront of the company. The need for this app is glaring, based on the experiences of women who have had their safety threatened while they were just trying to get from A to B.
40-year-old Michele Thomas tells Brit + Co that as she was being taken home using Lyft in NYC last year, it seemed like the driver was drunk. He was slurring his words and started asking her if she had a boyfriend and if she missed him. Thomas was so rattled by the experience that she ran directly inside her apartment when she got home, but was afraid to give the driver a negative review since he knew where she lived.
Thomas tells us that she immediately reported the driver to Lyft, who apologized, refunded her ride, and fired the driver. “I still use Lyft on occasion, but that’s only because of their previous response,” Thomas says. “And if anyone asks me if I have a boyfriend, I lie and say that I’m married with two children.”
Dakota Kim, a 35-year-old in NYC tells us that she’d had several experiences with Uber drivers who were overly flirtatious, but one experience in an Uber pool was the worst she’d encountered. It was 4am when Kim got in the car, where she had to sit in the front seat because the car was filled up in the back. Kim tells us she was exhausted after a long night of work and fell asleep in the front seat.
When she woke up, the driver’s hands were between her legs. She says that she immediately told the driver to stop touching her, but was frightened and traumatized by the assault. “I was scared for my safety because this man now knew where I lived,” Kim says. Kim says that Uber has been good about being in touch with her about a complaint she lodged, but says she is still waiting to find out if the driver has been fired.
Because of all the upsetting experiences she’s had with Uber, Kim says she “would feel much more comfortable with an all-women service,” Kim tells us.
We reached out to Safr for the inside scoop on their product, and while we weren’t able to get in touch with anyone at the company, the Safr website offers a lot of helpful information.
Safr’s website states that the app gives riders the opportunity to select the gender of their drivers, so women who would feel safer with a woman driver don’t have to ride with a man. The app also has a built-in safety feature called “SOS.” Using the SOS feature, riders have the option to contact 911, Safr, or a pre-designated contact automatically, according to the Safr website. And unlike Uber and Lyft, applicants hoping to drive for Safr will have to have an in-person meeting and a one-hour driving session with a Safr employee before they are hired, Curbed reports.
Not only does the service aim to make riding safer for women, but the company wants drivers to feel empowered as well. According to its website, Safr will pay drivers higher than the industry standard. Currently, all of Safr’s drivers are women, according to Curbed. Compare this to a mere 14 percent women drivers who work for Uber, as of 2015.
Not only does Safr want to make rides better for both drivers and passengers, but they’re looking to “share the love” with charities who support women and families. According to the Safr website, the company will donate a portion of every fare to a charity.
Safr is only available in Boston for now, but the company website says the service is hoping to start up in other cities across the US and abroad soon. Based on the experiences that women are having with Lyft and Uber, it seems that Safr would have no problem acquiring a solid customer base wherever it sets up shop.
What are your thoughts on women-centered ride-share services? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Images via Pexels + Safr/Facebook)