Uber and other ride-sharing apps have been urged to offer women-only cars in London by the transport authority.
The suggestion is outlined in a policy statement issued by Transport for London (TfL).
The move could affect services such as Uber Pool, which let customers share a car with strangers.
The policy statement said operators should “allow passengers to choose who they share vehicles with (e.g. women-only vehicles)”.
It said they should “establish how passengers might be able to decide… before accepting a ride”.
The idea is listed under a section on “improving customer safety.”
Helen Chapman, Interim Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “The private hire market is unrecognisable from when current legislation was introduced. The growth of ride-sharing and other advances mean that regulation has to be fit for the next decade and not the last.”
TfL is now investigating what changes need to be made to current legislation in order to improve private hire, including ride-sharing services, in light of advances in technology, and to ensure the safety and security of passengers and drivers.
Any changes would be subject to a full consultation.
New regulations could include strengthened requirements for operators to:
• make a strong commitment to safety as a high priority, and to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their passengers, but also for drivers when dealing with difficult situations
• clearly state policies and action plans for the prevention and reporting of offences and for clear, named accountability at senior management level for safety, reporting and protection of personal data
• provide mechanisms to allow passengers to choose who they share vehicles with and establishing how passengers might be able to decide on this before accepting a ride
The Uber Pool service allows passengers to book a car that they can share with others with the fare being split between the travellers.
Uber lost its licence to operate in London last September and is currently appealing against the decision from TfL, but is able to continue to operate in the city in the meantime.
At the time, TfL said the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a London private hire operator licence.
It said it took the decision on the grounds of “public safety and security implications”.
TfL’s concerns include Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers, and reporting serious criminal offences.