The “creepo” who agreed to pick up Mel Smith about a month ago from a Midtown bar probably never got a chance to put her location into the Uber app.
“I always look at the picture,” Smith said of the photo that pops up when she requests a ride via Uber, which connects drivers with passengers looking for a lift.
Smith canceled the ride quickly enough that she didn’t have to pay. She waited a few minutes, opened the app and requested a ride again. This time Smith got a driver more to her liking – a woman – and made it safely to her Washington Avenue apartment.
Like thousands of others who hop into cars with Uber’s “driver partners” every day around the country, Smith was entering an emerging realm characterized not just by changing technology, but by challenges to traditional notions of the role of government in regulating consumer services like paid rides. Surging demand is outpacing enforcement as questions arise about the adequacy of company oversight, and Uber clashes with regulators in city after city.