Ridesharing may or may not be safe for women, but a husband-and-wife team that includes a former Uber driver is launching a startup Uber alternative that they believe will be.
Chariot for Women will launch nationwide, according to the company’s website, on April 19 – and men need not apply, as customers or drivers.
“Chariot was born to ensure safety, comfort and pleasure as well as giving back to female-focused charities and foundations through our transportation services,” the website reads.
Michael Pelletz, the founder and a former Uber driver in Boston who would drive up to 17 hours a day to support a wife and three children, came up with the idea after seeing and experiencing too many Uber rides he felt were unsafe, for him or his passengers.
Pelletz recalls one particularly uncomfortable ride:
A 20-something man stumbled into Michael’s backseat, incoherently babbling behind his rolled-back eyes. Something about grandmother’s house—it was clear he had no idea where, or perhaps even who, he was. He would pass out, wake up, squirm violently and reach repeatedly into his pocket before passing out again. With few options left, a horrified Michael spotted a nearby police officer, pulled over the car and ran out for help.
“What if I was a woman?” Pelletz recalls thinking. “How would a woman handle that situation, especially when I was so nervous myself?”
From that, the idea for Chariot for Women was born, a service driven by women, for women and passengers only. All drivers will be thoroughly background checked before being accepted to the platform. Like Uber, passengers will see a picture of their driver as well as the make and license plate of their car.
There will also be a “safe word” sent to the potential passenger – if the driver knows the right word, the ride can begin; if she does not, the passenger knows not to get into the car.
Pelletz’s wife, Kelly, the president of the company, also came up with an idea to give back to the community. So, 2 percent of every fare, 24 hours a day, will be donated to women-oriented charities.