Lyft adds Women+ Connect to match nonbinary, women riders to same gender drivers

A new Lyft feature being rolled out in some cities will let women and nonbinary riders choose a driver of the same gender. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The Lyft ride-sharing service Tuesday announced a new feature offered in some cities that aims to make women and nonbinary riders feel more secure by letting them match with more women and nonbinary drivers.

Lyft CEO David Risher said Women+ Connect told NBC it's about peace of mind.

"The ability to choose a woman driver might be exactly the thing that allows you to say, 'This really is making my life better.'"

In the past few years, the company has faced lawsuits from dozens of women who said they were sexually or physically assaulted by Lyft drivers; at least 17 were filed last fall.

In a "Community Safety Report" released in 2021, Lyft said 4,158 sexual assaults were reported between 2017 and 2019.

Beginning in Saudi Arabia in 2019, Uber launched a "Women Rider Preference" feature, and an announcement published in March indicated it is now available in 23 nations, including Canada -- but not in the United States.

In a press release, Lyft said Women+ Connect will initially be available in Chicago, Phoenix and three California cities: San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.

In addition to enhancing safety, the feature is meant to reduce barriers for women who want to drive for the ride-share app.