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Photo illustration of pink cab group me Feb 16, 2024.

Pink Cab brings late-night safety to students

For many women, feeling comfortable and safe on Lyft and Uber rides home after a fun night out with friends is a big concern. According to The Verge, 21% of Lyft drivers and 27% of all Uber drivers in the U.S. are women. In the latest safety reports from Lyft and Uber, both companies have respectively received over 3,000 and 4,000 sexual assault reports from riders and drivers, according to Business Insider.

While both companies have taken strides in launching women-only driving preferences and services, the hefty price and slow response time can cause hesitation for many Ohio University students looking for a way home after a night on Court Street. Pink Cab, a student organization formed last semester, has been trying to fill that gap for many OU students.

Pink Cab is a new student-run ride-hailing service aimed at providing safe transportation for female OU students, particularly at night. The service runs from a single GroupMe created by Kaycie Tillis, a junior studying psychology.

Tillis posted a QR code for the group to an OU class Snapchat story in November. Since then, the group has grown to around 100 members offering and requesting rides in Ohio’s college town. She added she felt inspired to create the group chat after hearing about a similar service her roommate’s best friend does every night at the University of South Carolina.

“A bunch of other colleges do it (too), where they have a GroupMe of a bunch of women on campus and they just drive (each other) around from the bars and classes so nobody has to walk home alone,” Tillis said.

Pink Cab operates similarly. Group members are free to text in the group chat whenever they need a ride from somewhere within Athens, regardless of the time of day. Other members are then encouraged to pick up the requested rides whenever possible. Once in contact, both members then communicate through direct messages to provide their drop-off and pick-up locations.

Each ride costs a flat $5 fee, and the service typically covers a 5-mile radius around OU’s campus. Tillis said the process has been smooth because 90% of requested rides get covered. She also said the service has been used regularly.

“It’s used a lot on the weekends,” Tillis said. “Even with like 100 girls in it, or maybe less, I’d say about five people per weekend ask, and then most of them get that covered.”

Emma Diehl, a junior studying English pre-law, heard about the club from another organization. Diehl frequently uses the service as a driver and said she always gravitated toward being “a night cabbie.”

“I think it’s kind of nice being able to drive around at night while taking care of other people, and just seeing how everyone else’s days are going,” Diehl said.

Diehl said the community in Pink Cab is supportive, adding she is happy that there is an emphasis on making sure women can feel safe. She said one aspect of driving she looks forward to is the conversations she can have with her riders.

“Say, for instance, when you’re walking down Court Street and you see masses of people all around, and you can just see them as groups and not really know who they are,” Diehl said. “But once you get that small ride, you can ask them what their major is (and) why they love doing what they love. You’d be surprised what conversations you get.”

Joey Noble, a sophomore studying art therapy, utilizes Pink Cab to get home from work late at night. She said the service feels more community-based and comfortable because it includes other female students.

“I think it’s a lot more comforting to know that it’s other students, specifically female students, so there’s no worry for me about anything bad necessarily happening while I’m trying to get home,” Noble said. “I feel like they’re a lot more supportive when it comes to getting home on time and getting home safely.”

Noble said she uses transit services like CATCAB, OU’s free campus transportation option, to get to work before her shift. However, she said CATCAB stops running at 11 p.m.

Noble said Pink Cab provides a great alternative for CATCAB, Lyft and Uber because of the price, time reliability, direct communication with drivers and the willingness to protect each other.

Noble added her favorite aspect of each ride is knowing she is safe while being able to communicate with the driver.

“Most of the people who I've had driving, I was most of their first customers,” Noble said. “So, it was very freeing to be able to talk with them because it was their first time too. It kind of felt nice knowing I was able to help other people out in a way that makes sure they know this is a safe thing to do on their part.”

As the spring semester continues, Tillis hopes to continue expanding Pink Cab’s membership. She said she hopes more female-identifying and nonbinary people join and create a larger safe space.

“I want to be able to keep it going past that (my junior year), and just keep it growing,” Tillis said.

All those interested in becoming a part of the Pink Cab GroupMe can join here.

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