#HaliLadyCab offers Halifax women a safer alternative to regular taxis

Halifax resident Alana Canales has started a hashtag to offer woman a safer alternative to regular taxis. Photo from Getty Images.

A Halifax woman has responded to a controversial sexual assault verdict by offering rides to women who don’t feel safe in regular taxis — and she is encouraging others in the city to do the same.

Alana Canales started the Twitter hashtag #HaliLadyCab Wednesday evening, with the goal of letting local women know they could find a safe ride home with other women. The idea was sparked by the acquittal of a Halifax cab driver who had been charged with sexual assault after a female passenger was found topless and unconscious in his cab.

“The verdict made people think that a cab is no longer safe for them,” Canales told Yahoo Canada News about friends of hers who regularly use taxi services.

“I thought about all the women and men out there that would offer their friends and family a ride in a heartbeat if they knew they … didn’t feel comfortable in a cab.”

Canales said that she has personally felt unsafe in a cab. She also shared a story about a friend of hers who jumped from a moving taxi after the driver and a friend of his in the vehicle sexually propositioned her. Unfortunately, their two experiences are not unique. According to the Halifax Regional Police, there have been a steady number of sexual assault complaints against taxi drivers over the past few years.

And while the word “lady” is in the hashtag #HaliLadyCab, Canales hopes the idea helps anyone who feels unsafe taking a cab, regardless of their gender.

There are also ways the local taxi industry could help make women feel safer, Canales said. For example, give female passengers the option of choosing a female driver. Or allow them to use technology to rate drivers and flag any problems. Car services like Lyft and Uber, which aren’t available in Halifax, provide customers with the option of rating their drivers via an app.

“There are only 1,000 taxi permits in the area and they are all taken,” Canales said. “It would only make sense that there should be a filtering system that allows drivers with a poor user experience to lose their taxi permit.”

Dozens of people in Halifax have taken to Twitter to show they support #HaliLadyCab. “The response has been very encouraging, and I had no idea it would blossom into what it currently is,” Canales told Yahoo Canada News.

But there is one person in particular that Canales hopes sees the hashtag: the unnamed complainant in the sexual assault case.

“I hope [she] sees public action and outrage, and knows how much she is cared for by the community, despite what is likely a very difficult court ruling,” she said.