The Short of It
Families are busy! And they're using the convenience of the app-based Uber car service for after-school pickups to save some time. But should they?
Imagine this: Your child has soccer practice after school, but you've got a big work meeting and can't get away. You don't have grandparents or a close friend who's free to drive him. You pick up your phone, schedule an Uber driver, watch as a GPS tracker shows where the car is and then get confirmation when your child arrives at his practice. Oh, and you just paid through your phone, too. That's how parents told the Washington Post they're using Uber car service.
Now, here's the controversy: Uber wasn't designed to let kids travel alone. Despite the fact it now has UberFamily, which provides car seats for child passengers, the car service's policy is not to pick up anyone under 18 who isn't traveling with an adult, and minors can't have an account. But drivers are shuttling kids anyway for fear they'll get a bad review, according to Business Insider.
Some also point out that Uber drivers undergo background checks but not the full work-up taxi drivers do, which includes fingerprinting. There have been several reports of sexual assault from Uber drivers in recent months, says Business Insider. Still, some parents find the process easier and feel more trust with it than with a typical taxi service.
With all the buzz, it seems like Uber might need to take a stand one way or another about whether or not it will pick up kids traveling without their parents. One thing's for sure though: Busy families have a demand for more after-school travel options. For example, San Francisco now has Shuddle, a transportation service manned mostly by stay-at-home moms, teachers and nannies that specializes in getting kids where they need to go after school. The company is growing and has plans to go nationwide.
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