BUENOS AIRES – Amid the boom in ride sharing apps like Uber and Cabify, in Argentina similar alternatives geared toward women and staffed exclusively by female drivers have begun to multiply.
In 2018, Argentine media reported a rape charge brought by a female passenger against an Uber driver, another woman said she had been attacked, a third said she was drugged, and another group of girls shared on Twitter the outrage of a driver who took their photos and posted them without their consent.
In that context, two projects have come to the fore that offer ladies a more comfortable way to travel.
The pioneer app is She Taxi, a platform created in 2016 by taxi driver Maria Eva Juncos in the city of Rosario, where the service has some 130 taxis driven by women.
Though She Taxi accepts both men and women as passengers, the latter represent 90 percent of the clientele.
Juncos told EFE that at first when young women got in her taxi and saw the driver was a woman, it was “total joy” for them and they immediately asked for her telephone number
“There came a time when I had 20 phone calls at the same time from different places,” she recalled.
Juncos subsequently created the free She Taxi app and expanded to Cordoba and Santa Fe, but had to pull out of those cities for the lack of female taxi drivers, and is now limited to Rosario.
Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, the launch is being planned for SaraLT, an app similar to Cabify but exclusively for women and children passengers, and with women drivers only.
Though the platform plans to start operating in the Argentine capital on Feb. 7, it already has 1,200 female drivers signed up and some 27,000 downloads by future passengers who “don’t feel safe when it comes time to travel,” Cabify Regional Director Felipe Martinez told EFE.
“We see it on TV all the time, it happens on the street, it happens on trains, in taxis... not all men are like that but a lot of them are rude so they make a woman feel a little more distrust,” Martinez said.
Even the Buenos Aires city government has joined the trend by adding 2,000 new female taxi drivers to reduce the gender gap in the sector and provide its BA Taxi app with the option of choosing a woman driver – for female passengers only – “because they represent 70 percent of the rides.”
One of the professionals registered to become a SaraLT driver is Maria Carolina Roldan, who will combine her work with Cabify with time working for the new platform, which she believes will be a hit because of women’s “need to feel safe.”
As a mom, Roldan also values the transportation service for little girls and boys that SaraLT offers, because a woman driver means “more security” for the most vulnerable.