NYC fashionistas, party girls, and even moms have a new transportation service on the way to get them where they need to go. It is a development that underscores that when innovation is allowed to flourish, the consumer benefits, especially when the public demands it.
SheTaxis/SheRides is a new service like Uber and Lyft that uses a taxi application to connect female riders with female cab drivers. The drivers can be identified by hot pink pashmina scarves they’ll don. The two names are a bit confusing but purposeful. It will be called SheTaxis in the suburbs and SheRides in New York City (to comply with regulations barring the use of “taxi” in the name).
This service was founded by Stella Mateo, a mother, long-time taxi veteran, and wife of the head of the state’s federation of taxi drivers. Mateo wants to attract more female cab drivers and thinks this is the ticket.
SheTaxis/SheRides is billed as a safe alternative for women who are leery of getting into the cars driven by men. It’s really a new way of taxicabs competing with other new competitors such as Uber and Lyft, but it's not the first of its kind. India and New Zealand have their own women-driven fleets of taxis.
The New York Times reports:
New Yorkers can already choose from yellow taxis, green cabs or black livery cars. They can tap a smartphone app for a ride, or simply stick out an arm. They can pay with cash or credit.
Now there is one more option: a female driver.
A new livery service starting Sept. 16 in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island will offer female drivers exclusively, for female riders, according to its founder. It will take requests for rides through an app, and dispatch drivers sporting hot pink pashmina scarves.
The service will be called SheTaxis — SheRides in New York City because of regulations barring it from using “taxi” in its name — and aims to serve women who may feel uncomfortable being driven by men, or who simply prefer the company of other women. The app will ask potential riders if there is a woman in their party. If not, they will be automatically redirected to other car services.
Ms. Mateo said she also saw her service as a way to help women join an industry that has long been dominated by men.
Of New York City’s 59,999 for-hire drivers of livery cars, green cabs, limousines and luxury sedans, only 2,952 of them, or 5 percent, are women, according to city data. Even fewer women drive yellow cabs: 574 out of 51,874 drivers, or 1 percent.
This is a fascinating case study of the market at work, constantly evolving to provide new goods and services to consumers and competing with those already in the space.
The popularity of ridesharing programs has skyrocketed in urban areas over the past few years and as we’ve reported, the taxicab industry and local governments have done everything to stop this innovation.
In Washington, we can't forget how hundreds of cabs snarled traffic during rush hour in downtown D.C. one day. That didn’t earn them any brownie points. Nor did Virginia’s ban on Uber and Lyft which touched off major backlash from young people who are avid drivers and riders. Across the country police officers have conducted stings to arrest Uber drivers.
So it appears cabs have gotten the message: cronyism doesn’t fly with riders. We have no sympathy for those who spend millions to lobby government officials for special treatments and protections – locking out new ideas and now innovations that simply provide more and better options for consumers. SheTaxis/SheRides is one of likely many new attempts to engage in the marketplace fairly. We welcome that.
At the end of the day, whichever service provides the best, safest and most economical options for riders will win, unless the government is enlisted to favor one over the other. That’s fair, because it’s market-driven not hand-selected by government agents picking and choosing winners in the marketplace.