Uber Letting You Book Rides for Other People

Uber recently pledged to be friendlier to its employees and its drivers. As of Tuesday, it plans to be friendlier to senior citizens, too.

The ride-hailing company launched a feature in more than 30 countries on Tuesday that lets users of the Uber app book a ride for someone other than themselves. Given that many people over the age of 65 either don't use a smartphone or the Uber app, this feature lets their friends and loved ones book rides on their behalf.

While some Uber customers have found ways to book rides for others informally, the new feature is specifically designed to accommodate such requests.

When an Uber customer opens the app and chooses a pick-up address that differs from what their phone's GPS detects as its current location, the app will ask the customer whether they are booking a ride for someone else. Customers can then select a rider from their address book, set a destination and request the ride. Riders will not need to have an Uber account. Uber will then share the passenger's contact details with the driver, and the passenger will receive a link to track the driver's route, as well as a text message with information such as the driver's name and license plate number. The person requesting the ride will also be able to track it within the app.

Previously, drivers could communicate only with the person who booked the ride, and the passengers being picked up had no way of contacting the driver. Rides are charged to the credit card of the person who requested the ride.

Both Uber and its competitor Lyft have in the past taken steps to make their apps more accessible to seniors. Uber partnered with Los Angeles firm 24Hr HomeCare and Lyft partnered with GreatCall last year to allow customers to book...

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