Last week, we were alerted to SheRides, a new livery-service app that promised to exclusively provide rides to ladies courtesy of lady drivers. That service was set to launch today, but it seems the SheRides crew is having some trouble drumming up an all-female fleet—only about 100 drivers have signed up, drastically falling short of the 500 the company believes it needs to launch. Oh SheRides, we hardly knew ye.
SheRides spokesperson Tamika D. Mallory told reporters that the service will be delayed until later this month. "Over the last week, we have tested our capabilities and found that the demand for rides is much higher than our capabilities in terms of our supply of drivers,” she said at a press conference yesterday, noting that over 100 drivers had already enlisted with the app. The company will reportedly try to attract new drivers through "opportunity fairs" at their Long Island City offices.
Of course, enlisting drivers isn't SheRides's only roadblock. The company says the whole point of their endeavor is to make taxi rides more accessible for women who are more comfortable taking a ride from another woman, for religious or other reasons. "You know there are women who don't want to go to a gym with men, they have an option to go to a female gym," Stella Mateo, the company's founder, told CBS News. "You have an option with your gynecologist, if you don't want to see a male, you don't feel comfortable, you have the option go to a female, this is about opportunities and options for women."
But human rights officials say the app's female-centric policy may be discriminatory. "Under the NYC Human Rights Law, it is illegal for a public accommodation (a provider of goods and services) to deny service based on a protected class or to express a preference for one protected class over another,” NYC Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling said in a statement. “We are currently in the process of reaching out to the livery bases that will be using the app and advising them of their obligations under the NYC Human Rights Law.”
Initially, it was reported that male passengers would need to be accompanied by a woman in order to ride. Mallory told reporters yesterday that men would be able to utilize SheRides's services, but did not clarify whether that female chaperone rule still applied.
The city's female cab drivers are few and far between. In February, the Taxi & Limousine Commission confirmed only 1 percent of NYC's taxi drivers were women.