MONCTON – Mireille Fougère has driven cabs for three years and has had her fair share of horrifying experiences. Now she and her friend Melissa Goguen want to make sure passengers are safe with their new company, Pink Cab, which caters primarily to women, seniors and children.
“I’ve been assaulted [while on duty]. The father of a young man who threw up in my car – I went to collect the rate to clean the car – and he assaulted me. I had to call the police. They didn’t do anything,” Fougère said, recounting a story where the man broke her phone and squeezed her hand so hard, her nails broke and she bled.
Another time, a man pushed Fougère, resulting in her knee being scraped and her ankle twisted. She’s also heard from passengers who were in cabs where the driver smokes marijuana while driving, follow women to their apartment, and drive recklessly with children in the car.
“People don’t like it. So they know in my car they’re safe,” she said.
Taxicabs in Moncton are governed by city by-laws. Anyone who owns a taxi company and/or drives a taxicab has to be licensed by the city. The city requires proof the driver hasn’t lost more than six points on their driver’s license within the year prior to the application. Drivers must also provide Criminal Record Check, including a Vulnerable Sector search. They must provide an updated check if the city requests it.
Drivers also have a dress code to follow, as well as standards of cleanliness based on the by-laws. Their licenses will be suspended or revoked if they break liquor, drugs and substances and criminal laws. Dangerous offenders, even those who have been pardoned, are not eligible for a license.
Despite such regulations, safety issues in taxicabs seem to come up often in the discussions Goguen and Fougère would have over the years that they’ve been friends. Goguen said she’s heard many of these “scary” stories from Fougère, who sometimes also uses taxi services.
Goguen, who owns Vintage Beauty by Melissa, also saw a good business opportunity. And so, they launched Pink Cab about three weeks ago.
“It seems the topic is brought up often and then finally, we just decided to go with it,” Goguen said. “I knew she loves driving, so it just made sense to do this for people to make them feel safer. And it’s just an exciting project that would be fun to venture out and it would be cool.”
The name Pink Cab reflects that the company is “female-based,” said Goguen, the owner of the business. It shows that it caters primarily to women, and those who are more vulnerable, such as seniors and the transgender population, Fougère added.
Customers expressed their satisfaction with Pink Cab through reviews on the company’s Facebook page.
“I had the pleasure of using pink cab Saturday night on my way home and my experience was fantastic. For a one-driver operation, I’m incredibly impressed by the service level and how quick and friendly my diver [sic] was. Rates were perfect and I felt safer in her cab. Would recommend to anyone!” one review read.
Parents who have used Pink Cab’s service also liked the idea, saying they’d recommend it to their daughters who may need a cab after a night out. The company also offers four seats for young children upon request for an additional $3.50. But Pink Cab has also picked up men.
“A majority of our clients that are calling us are women,” Goguen said. “But we don’t refuse service to anyone…as long as the driver feels safe to pick up everyone.”
While the cab isn’t retrofitted for a motorized wheelchair, Fougère said the car can take wheelchairs that can be folded or disassembled.
With overwhelming support from the community, the one-car operation could expand faster than it initially planned, Goguen said.
“It’s hard to gauge it right now because we’re brand new. But once we get to the point where we can’t keep up, we’re going to add as the demand grows, I guess,” she said.
If that happens, Goguen and Fougère plan to supply the cars so the whole fleet looks the same and stays on brand. They also plan to hire women drivers who know the city. Goguen is also looking at possibly having an online order system in place as Pink Cab expands. For now, customers can only order via phone.
Pink Cab doesn’t charge the $1 debit fee for customers. It also does deliveries for restaurants with the meter starting at $7.
Fougère said she’s happy that she’s able to provide a safer taxi experience for her customers. But she said the safety situation in taxicabs is frustrating.
“I don’t find it horrifying, I find it frustrating. I can hold my own. I’m not scared in my cab. But for a lady to feel uncomfortable in a cab, it’s unprofessional. That’s why we’re doing this,” she said.