A retired couple came up with a ride-sharing service tailored for seniors years ago, and it ultimately caught the attention of Uber, the biggest player in the industry, Bloomberg reported Monday.
Bob Carr, a 67-year-old man from Atlanta, started a small nonprofit called Common Courtesy in 2014 along with his wife, Anne. The goal of the organization was to extend the Uber app to senior citizens who either didn’t have a smartphone, or were averse to using one.
Prior to the formal organization of the nonprofit, the Carrs would organize rides for elderly people by directly using their respective devices.
“I had five different mobile phones with five different Uber accounts,” Carr said, according to Bloomberg. “We called it reengineering.”
He says he originally came up with the idea for Common Courtesy in 2007 when he witnessed a senior almost getting into a car crash following a safe-driving tutorial. The Carrs then patented an idea for a driving service organized by text messaging and operated on a volunteer basis, but at the time, never followed through completely due to certain obstacles.
Uber at some point found out about the Carr’s creative use of their service. But rather than trying to combat them on their endeavors, Uber chose to find out more.
After sending roughly five engineers to analyze the project in 2016, the ride-sharing startup turned tech conglomerate decided to collaborate with Bob and Anne Carr and eventually embedded the concept into its app.
Months later, Common Courtesy and Uber tested the new feature called Uber Central, which allows a singular phone to organize and order multiple rides. One user, for example, can organize up to 15 different rides at once. There are now more than 30 different chapters of Common Courtesy in the country.
The nonprofit charges $3 for every ride it coordinates. It also exacts $1 for each ride an affiliated Common Courtesy branch arranges, Bloomberg reports. (RELATED: Uber Forced To Pay Advocacy Group $2.38 Million For Not Picking Up Blind People)
“I’m so happy that I don’t just have to sit at home and read or sleep,” said 82-year-old Dottie Mitchell of Virginia Beach, who doesn’t own a cell phone or computer, and had her license rescinded because of her age, according to Bloomberg. Mitchell is now able to visit friends at a nearby Starbucks (which she does almost every morning) due to a local Common Courtesy chapter and its partnership with Uber.
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