British Columbia

All-female taxi service preparing to launch on Vancouver Island

An all-female taxi service is preparing to launch on Vancouver Island, in a growing trend across the country of women-specific services popping up in an industry typically dominated by men.

Women on Wheels was started by a group of female drivers in Sooke

Women on Wheels is waiting for its application to the Passenger Transportation Board to be approved. (CBC)

An all-female taxi service is preparing to launch on Vancouver Island, in a growing trend across the country of women-specific transportation services popping up in an industry typically dominated by men.

A group of female taxi drivers in Sooke came up with the idea of starting Women on Wheels after noticing that customers were requesting women drivers on a daily basis.

"Some of us girls were together and talking," said founder Tammy Hogg. "We've all been in the taxi industry for awhile and we just saw that there needed to be a change."

Concerns about safety are one of the most common reason customers ask for a female driver, she told Jason D'Souza, host of CBC's All Points West.

"There are concerns everywhere about people getting into a taxi and feeling safe, feeling that they can get in with a stranger," Hogg said. "That concern is for women, for seniors, for people with special mobility issues and maybe some men too."

The taxi company would have all female drivers and dispatchers, Hogg said, and would prioritize picking up female passengers.  

Growing trend

Women on Wheels may be the first of its kind on the island, but it's part of a growing movement in North America.

Last week, a new women-only ride-sharing service called DriveHer launched in Toronto, and a similar service exists in Halifax. 

Hogg said the group has gotten a lot more attention and positive feedback than it originally expected.

"A lot of women want to come drive for us. A lot of people want to already start to take our cabs, and we are not operational yet," she said.

Not all the feedback has been positive though.

"We've been called sexist. We've been called lesbians. We've already been told that we are discriminating," she said. "We are just a bunch of girls who want to do something good for people."

Women on Wheels submitted an application to the Passenger Transportation Board a month ago and, Hogg said, she expects the taxis to be on the road later this year.

The company plans to start on the West Shore area and then branch out.

With files from All Points West.

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