A Croydon mother has launched a new female-only car service, offering women a safe and reliable alternative to minicab services and London transport.
Annisa Cars, founded by Sade Agboola, will only accept women and children passengers and use only female drivers. Agboola came up with the idea after struggling to find a cab company to take her young son to school and not always feeling comfortable when using private cabs.
Speaking to EastLondonLines, Agboola said: “In some of my experiences traveling in minicabs, I’ve just felt not comfortable and uneasy with the kind of behaviour from the drivers. Friends and family have also expressed their feelings and experiences about travelling in minicabs.
“It was something that developed over time, and eventually I thought I can make a difference. It wasn’t so much about making money, it was mostly supporting women and making them feel empowered.”
The service will cover Croydon, Sutton, Brixton, and Streatham and aims to ultimately cover all of South London. Reservations can be made online or on the phone, as well as through their app, which aims to launch next month. They also offer airport transfers to all London airports, day hire, London tours, and school runs.
“A lot of women don’t feel comfortable to travel on London transport or a minicab,” says Agboola. “There are so many scenarios that you could go into – women that have been abused, women that have been assaulted – and I feel like those women are not remembered.
“I felt like we need to give women an alternative, a choice that they can opt to take if they want to. We provide safe transport for everyone, but we want to target women who have been in these situations. It’s important to make these women know that they are not forgotten.”
Alternative car services are increasingly in demand following popular ride-hailing app Uber’s banning from the capital, which won’t take effect until October 21. Transport for London cited reasons for the ban including Uber’s approach to reporting criminal offences and its way of carrying out background checks on drivers.
A 2016 report revealed that out of 154 allegations of rape and sexual assault from February 2015 – February 2016, 32 of those claims were made against Uber drivers. In one case, Uber has been accused of failing to report a driver after a passenger made an allegation of sexual assault, who then received another allegation at a later date, still maintaining his license.
Agboola told Eastlondonlines: “When I first came up with this concept, I never even imagined that it would be possible for a driver that has a license, that’s been vetted by the authorities, to commit such an act when they have the records of the person.
“When I started doing my research and looking around to see what services were out there for women and I saw these stories, I was so surprised, I couldn’t believe it. It made me feel like there’s no trust. How is a woman meant to get on with her daily life when something like that happens to her in a position of trust?”
On BBC Radio 4 show More or Less, the year’s worth of statistics regarding sexual assault and cab services was analysed, showing that just over 20 per cent of all allegations were from Uber passengers.
Although these statistics show no reason to believe that Uber drivers are more dangerous than other cab services, these allegations are still unacceptable, and something Agboola is working against.
Annisa Cars aims to be a comfortable and trustworthy service, where the drivers are conversational and helpful, and where women can feel completely safe.
“I’ve had a lot of negative comments in terms of people saying men aren’t the only ones to assault women, saying that I shouldn’t have started this company but tried to address the issue,” says Agboola.
“My response to that is that we are not singling out men, we’re not saying we won’t take men and we won’t have men drivers, we just want to provide the service for women that have experienced these issues.”
Annisa Cabs are currently recruiting drivers. To apply and to find out more information visit http://annisacars.co.uk.