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‘Terms and conditions get ignored a lot’: Metro Uber and Lyft drivers say they’re getting requests to take kids to school

By Quanecia Fraser

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — For some parents, getting children to and from school is a struggle. That’s led to some resorting to ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. But one local driver warns it is against company policy, meaning drivers can turn down requests.

Anthony Kellen drives for both Uber and Lyft. He gets ride requests for a variety of places. But lately, he said it’s been requests for kids to get rides to school.

“It probably averages about once a day,” Kellen said.

For both Uber and Lyft, giving rides to unaccompanied minors is against the rules, something Kellen said parents often don’t realize when he rejects their request.

“You get there in the morning and then parents are complaining ‘Well I’ve never had a problem before,'” Kellen said. “I’m like ‘Well, somebody probably just doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of what it takes to say ‘no.'”

Sharnelle Shelton admits she’s used rideshares to get her 16-year-old son to sports practice for the last two years.

“He’s never ever felt unsafe,” she said.

Safety can become an issue whether it’s about who’s behind the wheel or who is really making the request.

In 2019, KETV NewsWatch 7 reported on a Bellevue man who was accused of using a ride-hailing app as a predatory tool. Nicholas Avery ordered an underage girl a ride from Kansas to Bellevue, a trip that last hundreds of miles and ended in sexual assault.

When drivers arrive to find their ride is a teen or child, it can put them in a difficult spot.

“I’m pretty sure one of the kids one time was like 6, it’s where it becomes the biggest issue, you know,” Kellen said.

KETV NewsWatch 7 Investigates reached out to both Uber and Lyft. Uber points to its community guidelines that say anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Drivers are asked to report situations to Uber’s 24/7 team when a rider may be underage. Drivers are also advised to ask for ID and decline the trip if the rider appears underage.

It’s a similar policy for Lyft, which states “unaccompanied minors are prohibited from traveling with most carriers,” and says drivers may ask the passenger to confirm their age.

Shelton says sometimes, she just didn’t have another option. She points to lack of transportation, like when her son attended Creighton Prep.

“Bus is not an option in my area, so I don’t have the option to bus him at all,” Shelton said.

Shelton said she wasn’t aware that transporting people under 18 was against the rules. But it’s something she thinks should change.

“I do think there’s a lot of opportunity for Lyft or Uber to specialize in offering safety and take the time to market that they can offer safe rides for children,” Shelton said.

As for Kellen, he understands why parents resort to rideshare apps.

“Terms and conditions get ignored a lot. So, I get it,” he said.

But Kellen said he just wants to make sure more parents understand the rules, hopefully preventing those awkward interactions if they get turned down for a ride.

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