Traveling with my toddler is what I imagine it would be like to travel with Mariah Carey: you’re essentially being held hostage by a crazy person who makes you carry all of her heavy shit for her. Like car seats and strollers.
Uber hears your cries for help as you struggle to carry that massive Graco car seat through the airport so you can spend half an hour installing it in a taxicab. The company is reportedly gearing up to launch a new family service, according to Venturebeat.
Uber declined to comment.
Venturebeat cites unnamed sources who said that “Uber Family” will be a premium service for customers traveling with young children. Only the “highest rated” Uber drivers will be selected for the program, and those drivers will be supplied with a child car seat that they’ll be required to set up prior to picking up the passengers. Wouldn’t that be cute if they also came with their own “Baby On Board” stickers?
Of course, not having to drag around your own car seat will come at a price. Family passengers will reportedly pay a $10 premium fee in addition to the usual Uber fare. But sometimes, it’s worth it.
The whole safety angle is an interesting one, though. For an extra $10, family passengers will not only get a pre-installed car seat—which is reason enough to pay an extra $10 when you’re traveling—but they’ll also get the peace of mind of knowing that they’re supposedly getting the most trustworthy drivers.
Uber—like other car-sharing services and, of course, the regulated taxi industry—has had quite a few complaints about creepy, stalky, and even abusive drivers. Unlike taxis, however, Uber’s hiring process is much less rigorous. When offering free rides to SXSW attendees in 2013, Uber hired 50 new drivers off of Craigslist, performed a background check, and gave them a 45 minute orientation—20 minutes of which was devoted to filling out forms.
To drive a taxi in New York City, a driver is fingerprinted and given a background check, drug tested, and put through a defensive driving course as well as a sex trafficking awareness course.
So what does it mean to get the “highest rated” drivers? Does that actually equate to safer or more trustworthy drivers?
Uber recently began notifying UberX customers that a $1 “safe rides fee” would be added to their fare. The fee to “not get raped,” as Valleywag’s Sam Biddle so pithily put it, will be used for background checks, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, insurance, and the development of more safety features in the app.
Uber has had its fair share of complaints, including a couple of particularly creepy encounters as detailed by The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi (including a driver who took her picture and then later emailed her employer, and another driver who messaged a Facebook friend of hers to ask if she was single). But women have routinely reported being harassed and even assaulted by taxi drivers for years as well. In London, there are an estimated 1,125 assaults against women by cab drivers every year.
Image source: wcvb.com