Stranded Woman Stunned Portsmouth Police Laughed At Her Request For Ride

That’s the headline of today’s Union-Leader article about the Arcade City / Free Uber effort last night to provide free rides in Portsmouth to whomever needed one.

No commentary needed. The article speaks for itself.

PORTSMOUTH – A stranded Massachusetts woman said police in Portsmouth laughed and drove away on New Year’s Eve when she asked them for a ride back to her hotel.


Alicia Sargent, of Somerville, Mass., told “Free Uber” founder Christopher David about the alleged incident in a recorded interview. David stopped and asked Sargent and her partner if they needed a lift when he saw them on the side of the road leaving Portsmouth’s downtown early Friday morning. They were approximately a mile away from their hotel.


“I came to Portsmouth to have New Year’s Eve, and I was looking up online to see kind of the safe ways to to get around town and one of those safe ways was the police patrol said that they were out, and they were helping people get around town, and unfortunately when we went, and we saw a police officer, and we asked them for a ride home, literally, they looked at us and they laughed and then they said, ‘Good luck with that,’ gave us a thumbs up and kept driving,” Sargent said.


When asked, Sargent said she did not want to pay an Uber surge charge, and did not know the names of any local taxi companies.


Portsmouth police posted two press releases this week on Facebook, and shared them on Twitter, which said there would be extra officers out Thursday night and early Friday morning to protect the public, and that there would be free transportation for those attending First Night.


On Dec. 28, police said a free bus runs between each performance venue, and a free parking shuttle brings First Night participants from the Connect Community Church public parking lot on Market Street to the High Hanover Parking Garage.


A shift commander at Portsmouth Police Department did not want to comment on the alleged incident Friday morning, referring media inquiries to acting Deputy Chief Frank Warchol, who was off for the day.


David, who was not driving for Uber when he picked up Sargent, said he was in Portsmouth with nine other ride-share drivers. They were using the new mobile app David created, called Arcade City. It is a tip, or donation-based, version of Uber.


Warchol said on Wednesday that if ride-share drivers accepted any money from passengers on First Night they would be violating of the city’s transportation services ordinance. Under the ordinance, taxi and ride-share drivers must register with the city. So far, only two Uber drivers have registered.


“I did not instruct our drivers to refuse cash tips, because that would be insane,” David said on Friday morning. “Our drivers provided a much needed service last night, rescuing stranded partygoers who couldn’t find a cab or an Uber. They deserved every penny and more.”


David stopped driving for Uber after his attorney advised him to. He was arrested in November on felony wiretapping charges for posting a YouTube video of a Portsmouth bouncer and taxi driver calling the police on him while picking up an Uber customer outside Daniel Street Tavern. Since then, he has been advocating for Uber drivers, and coded Arcade City.


He plans to officially launch the app at the end of this month.

Read the original Arcade City press release with full details from last night here.

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