On September 16th, SheTaxis will launch in New York. Dubbed SheRides within city limits, Stella Mateo's brainchild is a fleet of all female drivers who can be e-hailed using an app. The SheRiders will don pink pashmina scarves so their passengers can recognize them and the app requires that at least one passenger be female.
Mateo is the mother of two daughters and the wife of Fernando Mateo, who founded the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, which boasts 30,000 drivers. The family always used female drivers for their daughters.
Beyond making women more comfortable in taxis, Mateo aims to add women to the male dominated industry — only about five percent of black car drivers are female and only one percent of yellow cab drivers. In my six years of living in New York, I have personally had only one female cab driver. I estimate I take a cab five times a week, and have lived here for 312 weeks — that is just one ride out of an estimated 1,560. A female editor at The Wire estimates she has had four or five female cab drivers throughout the past seven years. The staff average for female cab driver experience was just 1.5 rides for an average 5.75 years residing in New York.
Miriam Malave, a black car driver, told The New York Times that she receives an overwhelming number of requests from women who only want a female cab driver. SheTaxi has hired fifty female cab drivers for their fleet. The Wire spoke with a female taxi driver to get her take on the new service. Overall, she was not entirely enthused by the app, "I would rather have male passengers, they talk to you more. Women passengers tend to talk on the phone more, and I'm guilty of that as well as a female passenger."
Though the TLC has not taken too kindly to other e-hail services, chairwoman Meera Joshi offered SheTaxi kind words in a statement to The Times, "As with so many service industries, the for-hire vehicle industry continues to get more and more specialized in terms of the products and services it offers." SheTaxi hopes to expand to DC, Miami and Chicago in 2015.