Uber, the ride-sharing app, recently revealed a new feature that makes it easy for users to request a ride for their friends and family.
Although users always could specify another pick-up point for an Uber driver, the addition has streamlined the process. It allows the rider and driver to communicate and ensures the person who requests the ride pays.
The change is simple: Uber added one step to the “pickup location” section. Now, the app doesn’t automatically set the pickup at your phone’s geo-tagged spot. Instead, the Uber app directs you to a “request dialog” that asks if the ride is for you or someone else. If you choose “someone else,” the app opens your contact book and allows you to pick the person, set a destination and send the request.
“It uses your contact book info to connect the driver and the rider; the rider gets a text message to their phone that offers their driver’s name, a link that lets them track their progress on a map, and a contact number so they can reach them directly,” TechCrunch reported. “The driver will see the rider’s name and also be able to contact them directly, though your friend’s phone number isn’t shared directly with the driver.”
Although the app addition is great for any user, it’s especially ideal for people requesting rides for friends in need — say your friend lost their phone, or one of your girls is having … eh … too much fun to make the request on her own — or family members who don’t have cell phones. Think elderly parents or grandparents.
In the wake of widespread reports about Uber issues including poor management, sexism, harassment and passenger safety, some riders have expressed concern about using the company’s service. No one wants to stop using ride-sharing apps, though. After all, walking is dangerous. Driving drunk is illegal and dangerous. And public transportation sometimes just plain stinks.
Luckily, other ride-sharing options are beginning to appear.
Safr, which serves the greater Boston area, aims to empower women and allay fears about personal safety. The company offers safe transportation to women, creates jobs for women and helps women maintain financial security.
Each Safr driver undergoes a comprehensive background check. Safr also allows users to choose their driver’s gender. When a user sets up their account, he or she can specify the driver gender with which they are most comfortable.
In addition to providing background checks, Safr features a number of other safety features:
- Each driver goes through an in-person interview and has the choice of undergoing bystander-awareness and ride-safety training.
- A 24/7, real-time monitoring system tracks rides to ensure safety.
- An SOS feature gives users a “panic button” to push if they are uncomfortable. The button allows a user to contact Safr, 911 or a predetermined emergency contact with a text message indicating the rider doesn’t feel safe with their driver or at their destination.
- A color-matching function ensures riders meet the correct drivers. The rider’s color must match the driver’s, and the match must be verified by the app before the journey can get underway.
See Jane Go
Savannah Jordan wanted to work for and use a ride-share service. But Jordan — and her dad — were worried about dangers she might encounter. Their conversation about the issues led to the creation of See Jane Go — a women-only driver and passenger ride-share company co-founded by Jordan and her father.
The app, currently available only in Orange County, Calif., allows users to hail a ride or pre-schedule a ride. Notable features include:
- Women may let their driver know if a man is going to ride along. The woman passenger needs only vouch for the male passenger.
- Users may rate drivers so they can be paired again. In addition, users may pick the type of driver they want: chatty, quiet, etc.
- Every time a user takes a ride, she donates part of what she pays to the charity of her choice.
It is illegal to deny service based on gender, so each driver is able to contact a third-party app to get rides for men in need.
Image © Adam Borkowski.