Uber launching teen rider program in Arizona

Posted at 10:36 PM, May 04, 2017

Would you trust ride-sharing apps to be your family shuttle for the kids? Uber is launching a new teen ride program for parents tired of playing bus driver.

Parents have increasingly turned to ride-sharing to get their kids to school, practice or other places mom and dad don’t have time to drive.  But kids riding with a stranger raises safety concerns. Now, Phoenix is a test market for a new program called Uber Teens.

Uber driver, realtor and mom Charlotte Loomer has been driving lots of kids lately.

“Had a couple that I took to soccer practice yesterday,” said Loomer.

As a mom, she also uses Uber's help getting her kids from point A to point B.

“I have a 16-year-old. He takes it to work when we're not around to take him to work,” said Loomer.

For Loomer, Uber's new teen function is peace of mind.

“I still look to see where they are, where they're getting dropped off.  I make sure they got dropped off in the right place," she said.

Phoenix is one of just three markets in the country that’s testing Uber Teens. Parents sign their kids up and then have total control of the rides their kids take.

“Parents can track that [ride] along the way,” said Steve Thompson, general manager of Uber Arizona.

Thompson said parents can even blow the whistle on a ride that's not going as planned.
“If the teen decides to detour their original course the parents are notified of any change in destination,” said Thompson. “That parent can contact the driver via the Uber application and say don't take him over there.  And say, don't take ‘Billy’ to his friend’s house, he needs to go to school.”

It's not for every parent.

“To me it’s just not safe to have a youngster out with an adult. And you don't have any background on the adult,” said Biven Wray, the father of a 10-year-old. He said he wouldn’t allow his son to take an Uber alone until at least 16 years old.

Uber said only their most experienced and highly rated drivers are allowed to drive for Uber Teens. Right now, Uber Teens is for kids 13 to 17. 

Parents can sign kids up for Uber Teens in the settings section of their own Uber app.