‘Quite a jour­ney’

Drive­her to hit the streets with goal of safer taxi rides for women

StarMetro Toronto - - Toronto - Gilbert ngabo

The lat­est en­trant into Toronto’s ride-shar­ing scene has one par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion: Both the driver and the pas­sen­ger have to be women.

Af­ter nearly two years of ground­work nav­i­gat­ing through the city’s bu­reau­cracy, Drive­her, a ride-shar­ing plat­form ex­clu­sively run and used by women, is set to launch this Fri­day with more than 100 fe­male driv­ers al­ready signed up to hit the road. Its ar­rival adds to the city’s ev­er­grow­ing car-shar­ing in­dus­try, from Uber to Lyft, In­staryde, Facedrive and Tax­ify.

“Fi­nally,” said the com­pany’s founder Aisha Addo, ex­press­ing ex­cite­ment about get­ting through the process and the prospect of send­ing reg­is­tered fe­male driv­ers on the roads.

“It was ex­haust­ing. There were many times I felt like giv­ing up and let go, but some­one would then call or mes­sage me ask­ing about the ser­vice and when we’re launch­ing. That re­ally kept me go­ing. It was quite a jour­ney.”

Tout­ing it­self as an al­ter­na­tive for women who may oth­er­wise feel un­com­fort­able or un­safe to ride in male-driven ve­hi­cles, Drive­her has se­cured a li­cence from the city to op­er­ate as a pri­vate trans­porta­tion com­pany. Its in­sur­ance cov­er­age is pro­vided by North­bridge In­sur­ance, and

all the driv­ers un­der­went a rig­or­ous back­ground check, ac­cord­ing to Addo.

Drive­her users will have a range of ac­cess to ser­vices through the app, in­clud­ing preschedul­ing op­tions, safety tips and built-in emer­gency but­tons in case they need im­me­di­ate as­sis­tance while in the car.

While the com­pany will ini­tially op­er­ate in Toronto and the GTA, the plan is to grad­u­ally ex­pand through­out the coun­try.

Addo, who is also the founder of Power to Girls Foun­da­tion, said Drive­her is both about safety and em­pow­er­ment of women. In a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try like taxi driv­ing, in­ci­dents of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, pry­ing per­sonal ques­tions or lewd com­ments have been re­ported in Toronto and across the coun­try.

drive­her founder aisha addo Bernard Weil/torstar news ser­vice

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