The Shocking New Way Parents Are Using Uber

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

At least that’s what some parents are doing, embracing the ease and convenience of the Uber app to shuttle their kids from school to piano to hockey. After all, how much is your time worth? If you can squeeze in another hour of work and keep your boss happy, and your kid makes it to her lesson on time, it’s a win-win, right?

Sort of. Uber drivers don’t undergo the same level of scrutiny as taxi drivers—they’re not fingerprinted, for example. And there have been allegations of sexual assault by Uber drivers. Childcare providers, teachers, bus drivers—all the other people who take care of our kids—have to undergo background checks…so it seems incautious to stick little Bobby in the backseat of a totally unknown, unvetted stranger’s car.

Plus, it’s against Uber’s policy, which forbids transporting unaccompanied minors and doesn’t allow them to register accounts. But drivers nonetheless pick up kids—presumably they want the work, and they’re afraid of the bad review if they refuse.

This is what’s known as a “kludge“: a patch for a much bigger, system-wide problem. Parents are stretched between the requirements of inflexible, full-time (or more than full-time) jobs and the exigencies of child-rearing. A school day that ends at 2:15 means that something’s got to give. And if Uber is patching that problem, some parents are going to take advantage of it, even if it’s risky.

Parents might feel more comfortable with Shuddle, a similar service manned by stay-at-home-moms, nannies, and teachers in San Francisco. I say bring it on! Show me the background check and my son will hop right in. He’s the one on the corner with the clarinet.

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