Starting April 19 in Boston, women will be able to hail a ride that may make them feel safer, the Next Web reports. In response to reported sexual assaults during Uber, Lyft, and taxi rides, Michael Pelletz launched Chariot for Women, providing ride-sharing just for women (as well as kids of any gender under 13 and transgender women) and employing only women drivers. The service also has a tight private background check for drivers, as well as a state check used by schools and daycares, per TechCrunch, and the app issues a "safe word" to only the driver and customer, per the Boston Globe. So far more than 1,000 women have signed up, USA Today reports. Pelletz tells the Washington Post he was partly inspired by the movie Pretty Woman, noting, "I was made to take care of women, to love them, respect them. … I was meant to do this."
Pelletz says he came up with the idea to cater to "the untapped market that Uber and Lyft neglected" after a frightening experience of his own with an "incoherent" male passenger while he was an Uber driver. But there are legal issues that could put the brakes on the service: specifically, gender-discrimination lawsuits. "There's nothing wrong with advertising particularly to a female customer base," a Boston lawyer tells the Globe. "But if a company goes further and refuses to pick up a man, I think they'd potentially run into legal trouble." An employment law expert says refusing to hire male drivers could get even stickier. But Pelletz tells TechCrunch he's ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court if need be "to say that if there's safety involved, there's nothing wrong with providing a service for women." The service also says it will donate 2% of each fare to charity. (An Uber passenger led cops on a chase while his driver was napping.)