Safety is a major concern both for taxi drivers and for passengers, especially women who are on their own at night.
It was these fears that led Suffolk mum-of-two Joanne Carr to set up a female-only taxi service just over two months ago – and it has been a roaring success with both male and female passengers.
Joanne, based in Bury St Edmonds, said she set up Diamond Cars with her own children in mind, to help people feel safe when they travel.
Describing herself as a single parent to two teenage children, she said she is a self-proclaimed “helicopter parent who would drive around anywhere for them”.
She told Hits Radio that her partner was a 20-year taxi industry veteran and his advice helped her make the switch from her career in the care service.
Despite a few unkind remarks, Joanne hasn’t been put off and loves her new vocation.
She said: “I’m proud to be a female taxi driver! I wanted to improve mine and my children’s quality of life and so I gave it ago.
“Even though some sectors of the world are not catered to women, we are getting there.
“I just want to create awareness and encourage people, especially women, to be more independent.”
Having decided to make the career change, Joanne believed a female-only team of drivers would help make everyone feel safer when travelling. She has even given free lifts to vulnerable women who are on their own after a night out, adding “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.
She said: “I don’t walk around the streets at night because I don’t deem it safe. I am always thinking about safety. It’s drummed into me, it’s who I am.
“I am a woman and I understand. I’ve dealt with weird people in my life and I just want to help women be independent, but at the same time feel safe.
“It falls across both genders where males and females should feel safe, but I just like to go into it with the approach of I’ll help anybody within reason. Sometimes females and males feel more comfortable with a female driver.
“I think that it’s maybe not such a confrontational thing. It depends on the driver, but obviously, you don’t know when you’re getting in that car. I think it’s just a preference really.”
The friendly and welcoming nature of Diamond’s fleet has been well received by passengers.
One said: “Went above and beyond for us, she was super punctual and friendly. Don’t hesitate to use Diamond Cars.”
This was echoed by another, who added: “My driver was super kind and chatty and was on time for the time I had booked my car! Very professional and the car was clean and very well presented! Will definitely be using Diamond Cars again!”
Keeping women safe at night – both those who travel in taxis and private hire vehicles as well as those who drive them – is an important part of the fleet.
Safety was at the forefront of Charlotte Hyde’s mind when she made the switch from nursing to driving for a living.
And cities such as Wolverhampton have launched drives to encourage more women into the taxi fleet.
Good luck to Joanne, who launched Diamond using a Volkswagen Passat, which offers plenty of room for four passengers as well as shopping or luggage. Patons Taxi Sales has a choice of more than 50 makes and models of vehicles all carefully selected for the taxi and private hire fleet.