Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Morning Shuddle

No longer a school bus:

"Ride-hailing apps get kids where they’re going; Services provide option for parents too busy to drive" by Michael Liedtke Associated Press  June 23, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Sacha Simmons used to dread taking a taxi to her high school or someplace else to hang out with her teenage friends when her parents weren’t around to give her a ride. Sometimes, the cab drivers wouldn’t show up or, when they did, they were rude or haggled with her about the fare.

Those frustrations disappeared a few months ago when her parents introduced her to Shuddle, a ride-hailing service that caters to youngsters who need a lift when mom and dad are too busy to drive.

‘‘I had some pretty bad experiences with cabs,’’ Sacha, 16, says. ‘‘Shuddle is less of a hassle, and I feel safe with their system. The driver knows who I am, and it’s more secure.’’

Shuddle is among a crop of California services providing rides to 8- to 16-year-olds who need to get to school, a sporting event, or a social activity. On Tuesday it introduced ShuddleMe, an app that lets the kids book the ride themselves within an hour of when the service is needed.

When the first kid disappears and turns up raped and murdered that will be the end of this.

Before this, parents had to arrange for the car, and do so at least a day in advance. ShuddleMe still requires parental approval.

Besides Shuddle, kid-friendly ride-hailing options include HopSkipDrive and Boost, an experimental service backed by carmaker Mercedes-Benz. Both those services require rides to be booked at least a day in advance.

I wonder if they have a French Shuddle.

These alternatives are seizing an opportunity created by better known ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, which all have policies against giving rides to minors who aren’t accompanied by an adult.

I $en$e another agenda at work.

Shuddle charges a $9 monthly membership fee, and its fares are about 15 percent higher than Uber’s for comparable trips. The membership fee and surcharge help pay for background checks of Shuddle’s drivers.

Oh, well. Never any problems with those, in government or industry.

The company is trying to avoid the complaints that have bedeviled Uber about inadequately screened drivers. In the most extreme cases, Uber drivers have faced allegations of sexual assault and other unseemly conduct.

Unlike Uber, Shuddle routinely interviews prospective drivers face to face.

(Blog editor snorts)

Its background checks scan courts and other local law enforcement agencies for serious crimes and even minor infractions committed in the areas where they have lived. They also must either be parents or have previous experience working with children as nannies, baby sitters, coaches, or nurses.

Parents can track the progress of their kids’ rides, and Shuddle says its own staff also monitors what is happening in the cars on each trip.

‘‘We go above and beyond because we want everyone to feel comfortable and confident about what we are doing,’’ says Shuddle chief executive Nick Allen, who previously cofounded Sidecar. ‘‘We are safer than the neighborhood car pool.’’

Shuddle doesn’t run drivers’ fingerprints through the FBI’s criminal database, however. Allen doesn’t consider it to be as effective at flagging problem drivers as the service’s other safeguards.

Who’s Driving You?, a group representing taxi, limousine, and paratransit services, contends Shuddle is asking for trouble by skipping the fingerprint check.

‘‘They are providing rides for the most precious cargo, so why shouldn’t they be doing even more to screen their drivers?’’ says Dave Sutton, a Who’s Driving You? spokesman.

Paige Simmons, Sacha’s mother, is happy with Shuddle so far. The service sends her photos of both the driver and the car that will be transporting either Sacha or Jay, her 15-year-old son. Shuddle also texts her when her children have reached their destination.

‘‘They give me all the information I need to feel comfortable,’’ says Simmons, who has been spending at least $200 per month booking rides for her kids on Shuddle’s original app.

Okay. Send the kids along then.

Sacha and Jay often scramble for rides because their mom, an attorney, and father, a shopping mall manager, both work at least 40 minutes away from their Mountain View, Calif., home.

Jay thinks the ability to hail a ride with an hour’s notice on the ShuddleMe app is going to improve his social life.

‘‘I used to be unable to hang out with my friends on short notice because I couldn’t get a ride,’’ Jay says. ‘‘This is going to be a lot easier and faster than hassling my parents.’’

That's the end of the ride.


You see a crossing guard anywhere?


Calif. labor board deals a blow to Uber

Just a little bump in the road.

Uber objects to license cap during N.Y. study

Woa! Better buckle up!

Uber suspends UberPop in France and awaits court ruling

Might have been the last I saw of it -- unless I missed something.