What Is Chariot For Women? The Women-Only Uber-Like Service Boasts Elite Safety Measures
A new service has promised to make ridesharing safer for both women riders and women drivers by matching them with each other. Chariot for Women is a new app launching in Boston which will work a lot like Uber or Lyft, but with one big difference: All the riders and drivers will be women. Some legal experts expect a bumpy start, due to possible discrimination claims; the app is expected to become available April 19. Chariot for Women will work similarly to other apps, but there are some key differences
The biggest and most obvious is that you must be a women to utilize the service or apply as a driver. Transgender women are included, and boys under 13 are also welcome to hail rides through the app. The rest of the differences have to do with security. You and your driver will each be sent a special code word to share with each other to make sure you're getting into the right car. You'll also be sent a picture of the driver, a picture of the car, and the license plate number.
The other safety measure is behind the scenes. Chariot for Women is using the Safer Places program for driver background checks — it's known for being strict — and all drivers must pass Massachusetts’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check, which is used at daycare centers and preschools in the state.
The founder, Michael Pelletz, a former rideshare driver, said he had the idea after a bad ride one night. According to the company's website, he was bringing home a drunk man who was barely conscious and incoherent. He wondered how a female driver would feel. He also said he had seen young women take cars home after a night of clubbing, often getting into the wrong car.
"We’re doing this because there is such inequality when it comes to security that afflicts driver and rider due to gender,” Pelletz told TechCrunch.
Men may have negative feedback for Chariot for Women, though, and if any of them take legal action, Pelletz's business model might not survive scrutiny in court. The company could face claims of discrimination for refusing to hire men or pick up male passengers.
The Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts' attorney general has not commented on the business model, but that civil rights experts see the potential for problems. Joseph L. Sulman, an employment law specialist, told The Globe, "The law’s really tough on that. For gender, it’s not enough to say, ‘we really just want to have a female here because our customers prefer that to feel safer.’” Another Boston-area attorney, Dahlia C. Rudavsky, told The Globe that it would be fine to advertise the service specifically to women, but that's where the line would need to be drawn. "But if a company goes further and refuses to pick up a man, I think they’d potentially run into legal trouble," she said.
Meanwhile, if you're in Boston, consider taking it for a spin. There's no surge pricing, and 2 percent of the revenue will be donated to female-focused charities.
Image: Chariot for Women.