Rushton fixing female fears

Founder/director Joel Rushton with the models we used as drivers/riders for the company’s main photo shoot. They are (from left): Natasha Ladd, Vicky Homewood and Delshad Sidhwa. Photo Allen Bian

A local lad has developed an app-based taxi service, giving females the safety and security of only female drivers.

DriveHer is simply women driving women.

Joel Rushton, a 23-year-old Howick College graduate, developed the new service.

“It worried me that my family and friends felt unsafe and were at times forced to choose transport options that left them vulnerable,” he said.

“While living in Australia I came across a service offering female drivers through a mobile app and knew we should have it here too.’

A law student at the University of Auckland, Rushton has spent the last nine months developing the app.

‘It is also about empowering women too,’ he says.

‘This business structure allows women to be in charge of their own income in a safe environment. We all know about the gender gap and this means they can work their own hours around family, study or semi-retirement.”

He also says DriveHer is about lowering the barriers women might face when wanting to become a taxi driver. His company’s supported joining process helps drivers to get started, meaning you only need a decent car and be a confident driver to sign up. So men can’t ride?

Rushton explains they still can. “Users can request a ‘mixed’ ride that gives drivers the choice around which groups they feel safe taking. The male then just needs to sit in the back seat.”

The app also incorporates a rating system for both drivers and riders in an endeavour to further enhance confidence of safety, the biggest issue women worry about in taxis, Rushton says.

But why is a man running a business for women?

“Unfortunately, I have many women in my life with personal insight into the dangers of just living as a female,” Mr Rushton says.

“I’ve included the input of the women in my life and in the community at all stages.”

This includes his mother and sister, who, he says, are very excited about DriveHer.

“We need to tackle this inequality by empowering women where ever we can,” he says.

“This is just one way.”

The app can be downloaded on iPhone and will available on Android “later on”.

DriveHer is starting in Auckland and is currently hiring drivers. Mr Rushton is aiming to launch the service for riders in a few months.