The taxi service business is undoubtedly male-dominated but one female business owner in Halifax is pushing to change that.
“Well, I’m trying to give the public what they want. They want more female drivers in the city,” said Crissy McDow, the owner and operator of Lady Drive Her.
Between 2015 and 2017, seven taxi drivers had their licenses suspended or revoked due to accusations of sexual misconduct, according to the city.
McDow, who has been running a car service business out of the airport for the past 29 years, says the increase in accusations has led to a spike in people requesting female drivers.
But she says she is being failed by a system that’s dominated by males and backlogged with a hefty waiting list for licenses.
“My phone is ringing because of those allegations. The females don’t want to be the next person that it happens to,” McDow said.
McDow created Lady Drive Her, after she noticed several of her airport customers were requesting female drivers.
“It’s a car service. We have 12 ladies right now that are licensed and operating. We support the airport right now. That’s where we’re licensed, back and forth,” she said.
McDow says people will often contact her requesting female taxi drivers for within the Halifax Regional Municipality, but she’s unable to fulfill that request because her network of female drivers only hold licences for the airport.
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That’s why she’s lobbying the municipal government and has started a petition.
“I need the city to create a new category for a lady driver car service. So that we could put a few cars in the city and we could take care of that demand,” McDow said.
According to the municipality, there are two types of taxi licences.
One is a driver’s licence which is a licence to operate a taxi.
The other is an owner’s licence and that’s where the roof lights come into play.
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In order for people to legally have their car licensed to operate as a taxi, they need an owner’s licence.
The municipality has a cap of 1,000 owner licences and the waiting list to access them is currently sitting at over 850 people.
That leaves little hope of female taxi drivers ever breaking into the service.
“We’ve called Casino and Yellow and we’ve asked for female drivers, or my clients have asked for female drivers and they can’t supply that,” McDow said.
The taxi industry is currently undergoing a review for the first time since 1994.
“The review will look at a number of different things. It will be looking at passenger/driver safety measures, it will be looking at accessibility services, it will look at safety measures and advancements in technology and it will also look at other municipalities just in terms of best practice,” DiCarlo said.
Meanwhile, McDow is fighting to have her voice heard at the municipal table.
She is set to present her platform for increasing the number of female taxi drivers to the Transportation Standing Committee at the end of June.
“I think it [more female drivers] adds an extra layer of protection to make women feel safe using cabs, though all our cabs have to be safe for women and we have to take whatever steps are required to get there,” said Waye Mason, the deputy mayor of Halifax.