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Thanks, Richard.  It all makes good sense.  

However, when I was googling this topic I found two people who had received a message from Lyft saying that Lyft relies on text messages between driver and passenger and that it won't work otherwise.  So that might be a difference between Uber and Lyft.

I guess the next step is to try to Uber from a tablet with no smartphone and see how it works.  The problem with wi-fi access is probably a showstopper anyway, but it will be interesting to see if it does work w/o a smartphone.

Thanks very much for researching this question.  The Village is setting up a committee to investigate alternative transportation schemes for seniors and this will be very useful information.

Dick