The Tricky Business of Making Rideshare Work for Kids

Kango is just one of the startups vying to be “Uber for kids,” building an optimized, app-based twist on the neighborhood carpool by contracting part-time drivers who transport the youths in their personal cars. To succeed, these companies must not only overcome the struggles faced by powerhouses like Uber and Lyft, but also ace the more difficult test of taking solo minors along for the ride.

The market is definitely there. Kids need to get around, even if their parents are at work or otherwise occupied. Data from a teen debit card company shows that 84 percent of spending on taxis by 13 to 23 year-olds goes to ride-hailing, though unaccompanied minors aren’t supposed to be using most of these services, including Uber and Lyft. But some drivers—either out of ignorance or fear of a punitive rating—don’t verify their passengers are 18. While some parents have complained that Uber drivers are willing to drive their underage kids around, others happily plug their credit card info into their kids’ accounts.