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See Jane Go launches in OC with women-only ride hail service

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Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are tremendously popular. In the L.A. area alone, there are almost 100,000 people offering rides through those two companies, yet only 17 percent of their drivers are women.

This weekend, a new company hopes to change that. See Jane Go, based in Laguna Hills, will offer rides for women by women as early as Labor Day weekend. Launching in Orange County, the service will expand to Los Angeles within two months followed by an aggressive national rollout, said See Jane Go chief executive, Kimberly Toonen.

“I don’t know that I’d ever be comfortable driving because I don’t know who I’d be picking up, and I don’t know that I’d be comfortable riding because there’s this discomfort factor, and we just can’t ignore that,” said Toonen, who signed on as CEO after hearing stories of young women asking to be dropped off blocks from their homes to avoid male drivers knowing where they live.

See Jane Go operates in a similar manner to Uber and Lyft, except the drivers and passengers are women. If a male requests a ride, he needs to be hosted by an accompanying female. If there is no accompanying female, he will be accommodated with a ride through another ride-hail service arranged through See Jane Go.

Like Uber and Lyft, passengers request a ride through an app, and a driver then picks them up. Toonen estimates the wait time will be 10-12 minutes once the app goes live. Pricing is comparable to other ride-hail services, she said.

See Jane Go will launch once 400 drivers have been approved for the service. To work for See Jane Go, drivers have to pass a criminal background check. If they have ever had a DUI, they are automatically disqualified. Their cars must be 11 years old or less, have four doors and pass a 28-point inspection.

“I am excited to drive at a later time to pick up women passengers,” said Desiree Arroyo, a current Uber driver who will begin driving for See Jane Go once the app goes live in a few days. “Currently, I do not drive past 10 p.m. for my own safety reasons. I feel that the later you drive, there’s nothing good going on out there [with] the higher risk of picking up a male passenger that’s probably been drinking a little bit too much.”

Yvette Granados, of San Clemente, attended a Saturday event at See Jane Go’s Orange County headquarters to learn more about the passenger service for her daughter, who’s currently a student at Cal State Long Beach.

“I would not want her using a different company where she was going into a car with a random male that I didn’t know,” Granados said. “I’ve always said, ‘If you come into a situation, call me.’ I would rather have her call me to get her out of a situation. So I love this as an alternative for her.”

In addition to offering rides, See Jane Go seeks to differentiate itself based on hospitality. Passengers have the option of choosing silence, talking or music at the time they request a ride. The back seat will also be equipped with nail files and personal hygiene products.

“As women, we think about these details,” Toonen said.