On a cold Melbourne night, Kathryn and her guide dog Zeke waited over three hours in a dark car park for a taxi that never came. She lost track of the number of times she’d made out the shape of a yellow car pulling into the driveway, waiting only 30 seconds before driving off.
Kathryn lives with albinism. She has roughly five percent of vision, which decreases to zero in direct sunlight and at night. So getting from A to B, even with Zeke, is stressful.
Over the years, Kathryn and Zeke have endured abuse from taxi drivers for wanting to bring Zeke in their car, but as anyone who has or knows someone with a vision impairment, leaving her guide dog behind wasn’t an option. Uber unfortunately wasn’t much better.
“The advice I got from Uber was, ‘Call or send the driver a text and let them know about the dog’, and I was doing that, and within a minute of me informing the driver [about the dog], they’d hang up and cancel,” she told Mamamia.
“One time I had three Ubers in a row cancel on me, and when the fourth picked me up I was in tears, beside myself, thanking him for actually taking me.”
After so many negative experiences, Kathryn shared a post about ‘A Day in the Life of a Guide Dog’, detailing her taxi refusals and troubles getting a ride.
When one of the commenters suggested she try Shebah, the women-only ride sharing app, she had low expectations.
"I was very sceptical at the start," Kathryn said. "I thought 'This is just going to be the same - maybe some drivers will be great, maybe some won't, but I'm not getting my hopes up'. I was very, very, very pleasantly surprised."
She posted a ride request on Shebah's Facebook page (this was before the app was fully functional) detailing her condition, her guide dog Zeke and where she needed to go. Not long after, she got a reply from Samantha.