A new taxi service will start picking up fares in Sooke and on the West Shore in a couple of weeks, but this service will have one distinctive difference.
All their drivers will be women.
Tammy Hogg, the comapny’s co-owner, said the new service, named WOW (Women on Wheels), is designed to provide a safe, non-threatening ride for its customers.
“There are a lot of cultures where women can’t ride with lone male drivers, and even outside that population there are women who don’t feel comfortable riding with a male driver,” said Hogg.
“We’re providing a different sort of customer service. If you’re calling a cab for your child, or if you’re a senior citizen who is uncomfortable being driven by a stranger, there is a certain comfort level that comes with a female driver.”
Hogg added that her drivers will be selected to be cheerful and helpful, taking the time for customers to get into the vehicle and to help them with luggage or groceries.
“There is a portion of the public that just feels more comfortable with a female driver. When I was driving (for another company) I would often take a couple home from a night out and they’d ask me to wait to take their babysitter home. They just felt more at ease having me drive her than they might have had if I were a man,” recounted Hogg.
The service will help to augment the dearth of cabs in Sooke where only Orange Taxi still operates with only two cars on the road.
“There just aren’t enough cabs in Sooke and, since we live in this community, we wanted to get the service up and running in time for the Christmas season,” said Hogg.
The concept of an all-female cab service isn’t new.
An Uber-like service called DriveHer was established in Toronto in 2017, and a similar service, Lady Drive-Her was launched in Halifax at about the same time.
And while Hogg will say nothing to disparage male drivers, the facts are that, across the country, the industry has been rocked with a plethora of cases in recent years in which male drivers have been accused or convicted of sexual improprieties involving their customers.
But one of the challenges facing Hogg’s new cab service is getting enough qualified drivers to keep her cars on the road 24/7.
“We’re still looking for drivers and we realize that we’re going to have to be flexible because not all of our drivers will be interested in full-time work,” said Hogg.
“Anyone interested in driving for us can contact us at WOWtaxibc@gmail.com.”
Hogg explained that the service will have four units on the road when it launches early in December, two of which will be wheelchair accessible vans.
And, although Hogg admits that the colour scheme wasn’t her first choice, the new cabs will be painted pink and white.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have picked pink, but there’s always a give and take in any partnership,” said Hogg with a sigh.