PEI

Charlottetown woman starts her own taxi company

A Charlottetown woman has opened her own taxi company after seeing a need for more female representation in the industry.

'I think, being a woman, a lot of people are going to support me, especially women'

Cora MacDonald wanted to open her own taxi business after seeing a need for more women in the industry. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

A Charlottetown woman has opened her own taxi company after seeing a need for more female representation in the industry. 

Cora MacDonald said after nearly three decades of working for various companies, it was time to step out on her own and open Cora's Taxi.

"I think, being a woman, a lot of people are going to support me, especially women," she said. "They like to see a woman taxi driver."

As one of the few female cabbies in the city, she started to notice the welcome surprise in her female passengers when she'd pick them up. 

"They just look at you and they say, 'Oh, it's a woman'. And they're so happy," she said.

"A lot of them think they can talk more freely with a woman … even the younger ones."

Safety concerns

While she is going to be catering to all passengers, MacDonald said the request for female drivers is something that has come up over the years. 

"Some people don't feel comfortable taking taxis. And that's why I feel there'd be a need for a woman taxi driver because it makes them feel more comfortable."

MacDonald has been a cab driver on and off for nearly 30 years. 'It gets in your blood,' she says. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

In 2017, an advisory board with the city of Charlottetown released a report about the experiences of youth and what their needs were. 

The advisory board found that many young women refused to take cabs alone because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

The report prompted the Charlottetown police to re-evaluate the taxi bylaws and look into concerns over inconsistent fares and safety issues. 

Women are often a group that has to think the most about their own personal safety.- Jillian Kilfoil, Women's Network P.E.I.

Jillian Kilfoil, the executive director of the Women's Network of P.E.I., said she's heard from a number of different women about the challenges related to cabs. 

"There's a lack of cabs late night in downtown areas. Also, sometimes people are forced to share cabs … and get into cars with people they don't know and then divulge their personal addresses,"

She said she's excited to hear about this female-led initiative being offered on the Island.

Plans to recruit female drivers

"Women are often a group that has to think the most about their own personal safety," Kilfoil said. "And so as a woman, you're constantly navigating how you can keep yourself safe as you go throughout the world.

"So, having the cab owner … who has that lived experience and has that perspective makes it easier for all of the work of that company to better suit the needs of women in P.E.I."

MacDonald is the sole driver for now, but plans to recruit more female drivers when she expands the business. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

MacDonald said she's been told by female passengers that they do not like to share cabs with people they don't know.

"They feel more safe if they're by themselves," she said. "I guess they'd be worried what would happen at the end of the fare when they get out … whoever is in the car is going to know where they live and they might be taken advantage of."

MacDonald is the sole driver for now, but plans to recruit more female drivers when she expands the business.

"I think we're going to see more female taxi drivers because of this," she said.

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