Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne are going to be getting a new ride-sharing app this February – Shebah, an all-female taxi service.
Developed by writer and comedian George McEncroe, who got the idea when she became concerned for her 19-year-old daughter’s safety, Shebah has already had a wave of interest from its target audience, as well as copping a shout-out from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
The app is only for women drivers and passengers (and their kids – boys up to age 12 are allowed to travel with their mums). Drivers will undergo rigorous background and safety checks, including needing a working with children check, and will keep 85% of their fares. There’s no age limit on the cars drivers can use, unlike with Uber, and Shebah is firmly trans-inclusive.
Passengers can look forward to being able to schedule bookings, fixed fares depending on time of day, car seats for taking your babbies with you, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re not going to be hassled by a strange man in a tiny metal box hurtling along at speed, from which it is unsafe to throw yourself, no matter how tempting the thought might be.
McEncroe has also addressed the intimidation many female drivers feel when called on to transport often rowdy Uber passengers. She told the ABC:
“I registered [to be an Uber driver] a couple of times and I got really freaked out at the starting line. I had seen another woman about my age who decided to drive, she was pulled up outside a pub and three boozed up young fellas [were waiting] and I saw the look on her face.“
Currently only 2.4% of taxi drivers and 12% of Uber drivers are women. McEncroe says she is hoping that Shebah will be a platform that will provide “flexible, non-apologetic casual work for women.” And she’s got loftier ideas than just a lift for chicks – as she says on Shebah’s website:
“We want guaranteed safety for all passengers, equal opportunity for our drivers, and comfortable rides that raise the existing industry standard.“
Shebah’s website is currently letting punters sign up for early access, and the portal for hopeful drivers is already live (with more than 1400 applicants so far). McEncroe says she has plans to expand the app as soon as possible into regional centres, meaning that it really is likely to change the employment landscape for many Australian women.
Image: Shebah / Facebook.