KRCB Interview with Renee Cooper
BY Northern California Public Media/Steve Mencher KCRB, October 09, 2019
A Sonoma County company wants to make ridesharing services safer. “Women Driving Women” is based in Healdsburg and serves customers in both Sonoma and San Diego County. KRCB’s Steve Mencher spoke with founder Renee Cooper about how driving for Uber and Lift inspired her to start her own company.
You can listen to the broadcast interview by clicking play on the audio player on the KCRB website here at NorCalPublicMedia.org/2019100928910/news-feed/sonoma-county-ridesharing-service-aims-to-help-women-feel-saferInterview with Women Driving Women Founder, Renee Cooper
Sonoma County Ridesharing Service Aims to Help Women Feel Safer
Transcript of the KCRB Interview with Renee Cooper:
Q. How Did Women Driving Women Come About?
A. [When I was a rideshare driver for both Uber and Lyft], I felt safer when I knew I was going to pick up a female rider. And frequently, when I would pick up a female, especially if she were alone, they’d say to me, “Oh, I’m so glad that a woman was coming to pick me up! It made me feel so much more at ease!” That’s when I realized if you have those two things, ‘female to female,’ we both felt safer.
Then I had to figure out how I could do that without being discriminatory. The way that Women Driving Women does this is we provide a membership service so that when riders join and get set up with a connected member driver, they are the same sex as you.
Q. Can Men Take Part In Women Driving Women?
A. Yes. Men drivers would do precisely the same thing. They would be connected with and try to find male riders. Our primary riders are seniors–seniors who are past the age of driving. Women Driving Women connected drivers will not only drive a senior member around but go in with them to their medical appointments, so it’s crucial to keep riders and their drivers of the same sex.
So if it’s a male driver, then we help connect them with male riders in the zip code where they live.
Q. Tell Me How Much Money It Costs? Is It Similar To Uber And Lyft? Is It More? Is It Less?
A. Women Driving Women senior members pay $1.75 per mile. Regular members pay $2.25 per mile. A child is $3.00 per mile. Children cost a little more because of the time involved. The driver will arrive early at a child pick up to make sure they are there when the child comes out of the building. When dropping the child off, the driver will walk with the child into the home or the building to make certain they are safely where they are supposed to be before leaving. Children require more time and safety precautions.
Q. Tell Me About The Background Checks?
A. I personally handle all of the background checks. I have a company I work with that does a complete background check, and I review all the files. The file will contain any criminal records, civil records, and driving records. For example, I would obviously never enter into a commercial enterprise with a driver if they’ve had a DUI. Rider members must also submit to a background check as well. The exception here is with riders is that we will allow members with a DUI conviction because we want them to have safe transportation too. But a DUI is the only criminal infraction that Women Driving Women will enable members to have on their record.
Q. I Know That there Are NonProfit Models Of This Same Sort Of Thing. Back Where I Came From, In Maryland, There Was An Attempt To Do A ‘Village Model’ To Have People Volunteer To Take Seniors To Their Doctor Appointments And Things Like That. Tell Me About The Advantage Of The Women Driving Women Model?
A. The advantage is we have more availability. It’s the same-sex service, and it’s the same driver/rider every time. We do work with quite a few non-profits. The city of Healdsburg, for example, has a non-profit that offers free rides to seniors, but they are constrained because they have to work off of volunteer’s schedules and when they are available. Women Driving Women connected drivers can make a living driving. They aren’t going to get super-rich, but they can make a living, and it’s very meaningful work. I have never been thanked so much as I have my sweet little elderly ladies for creating this business model for them.