Lyft is planning to roll out a useful feature on their app to make female and nonbinary passengers and drivers use the service more safely.
There are plenty of ride-sharing apps that have made our journey a lot smoother compared to when passengers had no options except waiting for public transport. Now, people can tap a button and get picked up from their doorsteps and reach their desired location on time. However, there is a negative side to it which concerns the safety and security of women and nonbinary passengers. Lately, ride-sharing company Lyft has announced that they are working on providing women and nonbinary riders and drivers a stress-free journey.
Lyft announced that they are all set to introduce a new feature called Women+ Connect on their apps that gives women and nonbinary riders the ability to request drivers of the same gender. In the press release, Lyft says that while women make up nearly half of the demographic of its riders, only 23% of its drivers are women. It says that by giving women and nonbinary drivers the option to be more selective when it comes to who they're matched with, the company is creating an environment that allows women and nonbinary drivers to feel more "confident."
Lyft CEO David Risher made some interesting revelations to NBC's Savannah Sellers, per TODAY. "Just for your own peace of mind, the ability to choose a woman driver might be exactly the thing that allows you to say, you know what, yeah, this really is making my life better," he said. In another press release, Risher elaborated on how this feature will give women and nonbinary riders "the opportunity to earn money on their own terms."
The Women+ Connect function in the Lyft app will let customers choose a preference setting that will increase their chances of being connected with a woman or nonbinary driver. However, users won't be able to request female drivers directly. Women and nonbinary riders will get a prompt in the app to select 'Count Me In' when the function launches in a new city. Every user on the app will have the option to turn off the feature in their settings and to adjust their preferences at any time. The Lyft drivers will also have the ability to edit a preference section that with help them match with other women and nonbinary riders.
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These changes come in the wake of numerous sexual assault cases in ridesharing services that were reported in 2021. Lyft revealed in its community safety report that over 4,000 people complained of falling victim to sexual assaults between 2017 to 2019. The company did not specify whether these assaults happened to riders or drivers. In 2019, two Lyft users were interviewed by Jacob Ward from NBC where they shared their shocking experiences while ridesharing.
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"I just remember realizing that the door was locked," one of the victims, Anna Gillcrist, told the outlet. "And I said, please unlock the door, and he didn’t. And then he continued to drive past my apartment, and so I just, you know, like pried the lock up, and I jumped out of the car." She explained how the company didn't do much except offer her a $5 coupon and assured her that she would not be matched with the driver again.
Rideshare drivers & passengers need to begin lodging their complaints of sexual harrassment & assault directly to @californiapuc. They can no longer say they don't know what's going on. The complaint should also be reported to @Lyft @Uber & local PD. https://t.co/ol31mnXvSl— Judah: Life & Reality Connoisseur (@dopeconfections) September 29, 2019
Responding to the NBC interview, Lyft stated, "Safety is fundamental to Lyft. Since day one, we have designed policies and features that protect drivers and riders." Both women additionally told NBC that they would be much more comfortable if they were matched with female drivers only. Lyft is planning to introduce the Women+ Connect feature of the app in Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose first and then expand it to other cities.