Requesting Female Driver Now an Option With Boston's ‘Safr' App

When it comes to requesting a ride in Boston, there is no shortage of services out there, but a new Boston-based start-up aims to appeal to passengers who would feel more comfortable with a female driver.

Safr launched this month and accommodates rides that originate in Boston, Cambridge and Brookline. The service is focused on women and puts the emphasis on safety.

Safr does extensive background checks for all drivers, including face-to-face meetings and mentor sessions.

"There is an obvious need for something like this," PR manager for Safr Joanna Humphrey Flynn said. "I don't need to talk about the headlines that are out there, and that's just one of the reasons we created it."

Their launch comes as other ridesharing companies come under fire for reports of assault and allegations of sexual harassment. Their mission is not just to protect riders, but also to empower women who want to be drivers.

"Women need to feel empowered to do all the same things that men can do without fear, and that's what I think Safr does," driver Tia Dmuchowski said.

Dmuchowski says she's had her share of negative experiences with passengers while driving for other ride-sharing companies.

"There is that one person once in a while where you get nervous," Dmuchowski said. "They're trying to reach over and I'm trying to push them away that can be really scary."

Dmuchowski said that fear is gone when driving for Safr, which has several safety features that differ from other applications.

There is an SOS button that users can link to an emergency contact and a trusted driver list users can make themselves.

"That's a great feature because then it's not a random person, you can actually request," Rachel Westbrook, who frequently uses ride-sharing apps said.

Safr does cost on average $1 more per ride than other ride-sharing companies. They have roughly 100 drivers on the road with 1000 applications in the pipeline.

While men can sign up to drive, so far, none have, and even if they do, users can specify in the app if they feel more comfortable with a female driver.

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