A new female-only ride sharing service, Shebah, is launching in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong. It aims to create a community of women drivers and passengers, to enhance the safety of both.
Shebah’s founder is writer and comedian George McEncroe. She was shocked by stories from her 19-year-old daughter and her friends who’ve had bad experiences in Ubers and was driven to action.
Since she set out on the project, McEncroe says she has been inundated with stories of women being assaulted in taxis and Ubers; stories of “girls so tired of being scared and making their decisions based on fear.”
A recent report entitled “Right to the Night” – commissioned by child rights agency Plan International Australia, and Our Watch, a group dedicated to preventing violence against women – found that one third of young Australian women do not think they should be in public spaces at night. A quarter believe they should not take public transport alone.
Shebah’s drivers are female only, undergo extensive background checks, and must obtain a working with children check.
Passengers must also be female, with the exception of boys under twelve in the company of their mothers. There's an inclusive policy towards transgender women.
Shebah aims to provide affordable, fair prices, and rates will be fixed depending on the time of day.
With only 2.4 per cent of taxi drivers in NSW and approximately 12 per cent of Uber drivers nationally being female, McEncroe hopes to increase the number of female drivers and provide “flexible, non-apologetic casual work for women.”
Shebah has been positively welcomed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, among others. It currently has 716 drivers signed up and a few hundred more that have expressed interest.
McEncroe already has plans for expansion into regional centres, where there is a “serious lack of transportation”, provided the platform succeeds.
McEncroe says she is motivated by the number of girls who write to her saying, “this is going to change my life”.