While exploring the city, I often catch myself tensing up subconsciously in anticipation of catcalling and other forms of verbal harassment. I sometimes imagine what it would be like to travel as a woman in a truly safe manner. Chariot for Women (CFW), a new transportation service, aims to make those musings a reality.
CFW is an alternative to Uber, Lyft and regular taxis, which have all had numerous issues with sexual harassment and assault. Their mission is “Driving women towards empowerment and safety.” How will they guarantee that, you ask? By only hiring women drivers, only accepting women, children under 13 and trans women as passengers, and requiring drivers to undergo intense background checks. Already that sounds like a wonderful alternative to ride-sharing services that have been negligent about guaranteeing the safety of their passengers and drivers. Also, they will not have surge pricing and 2 percent of every fare will be donated to a women-based charity that customers can choose.
This new service, set to launch nationwide April 19, is an amazing idea that helps to fill the inequality in safety in the transportation industry. While the company will likely face legal challenges because of gender discrimination, I think that will be a necessary path to cross to show people that more measures need to be enacted to guarantee safety. I have some reservations about the background checks and with the notion that only women drivers and passengers will keep people safe, however; background checks aren’t perfect, and women can also be violent and dangerous.
But this service inspires me regardless, and I’ll be happy to part with my Lyft and Uber apps come April 19.
-Melissa Lin, Editor in Chief