For one Uber driver, there is little he hasn’t seen. From being sexually harassed to being assaulted and yelled at, the Calgary driver says there are many challenges of the job.
But it wasn’t the attacks that were of concern for him this week. Instead, it was a series of events concerning children that prompted him to speak out.
Global News has agreed not to identify the Uber driver out of concern of negative repercussions to his job.
The driver said in three instances on Monday, when he arrived at a pick-up location, no adult was around. Instead, each of the three times a child tried to get into his vehicle.
“I had received three requests for minors, unbeknownst to me,” he said. “I didn’t realize they were minors until I approached their houses and they stepped out.”
The children were between seven and 10 years old, according to the driver.
He canceled all three rides but the experiences left him shaking his head. He is advising parents to call a cab instead, as taxi companies have proper protocols in place to deal with minors.
But the City of Calgary refutes that safety issue.
Chief livery inspector Abdul Rafih said all drivers, taxi or Uber, go through the same strict vetting process which includes a police background check and vulnerable sector check — which investigates whether someone has been convicted of a sexual offence and was pardoned.
He said the city’s safety checklist and thorough background checks speak to the trust parents have in the taxi and ridesharing system.
“We check all drivers to ensure all passengers are safe in that mode of transportation,” Rafih said. “They understand, namely parents, that they can at times allow their child to enter a mode of transportation and safely arrive at their destination.”
For its part, Uber said its policy explicitly prohibits drivers from picking up children under the age of 18. People who use the app are also not allowed to let minors ride unattended.
“Every trip is GPS tracked and no trip is anonymous, safety doesn’t end with background checks,” Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling said. “We have a two-way feedback system with a support team who is dedicated 24/7 to monitor the feedback of trips.”
Drivers who are unsure of a rider’s age can also ask them to provide identification or a driver’s licence for confirmation, according to Uber.
The Calgary Uber driver is also asking parents to put the onus on themselves and warned them against being too trusting.
“Parents are relying too much on Uber to move their children around from location to location. Let’s be diligent as adults and take care of our children,” he said.