Advocates Call for Better Access for Disabled Riders Using Uber and Lyft

Advocates say Uber and Lyft not accessible for disabled.

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If you’ve ever used Uber or Lyft, you understand why most people prefer either over your everyday cab. Although the rates can be higher in certain areas, the convenience and ease of use for both is unmatched. Although the services have been the target of cab drivers and legislators for over a year, the two companies have now come under fire from disabled riders who have had issues with accessibility.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, both companies are facing lawsuits across the U.S. alleging that drivers discriminate against disabled people with wheelchairs and seeing-eye dogs. While most people in manual wheelchairs can ride in most cars with general ease, those in electric wheelchairs often required a lift or ramp on a vehicle and tie-downs for stability during the ride.

Both Uber and Lyft apps offer a feature that enables riders to call a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, but limited availability and longer wait times are concerns. Additionally, questions have been raised about vehicle inspections and driver training.

State regulators have notified the companies that must provide equal service for the disabled and Uber and Lyft say they require their drivers to comply with ADA regulations. However, because drivers are independent contractors, the companies can’t force them to operate wheelchair-accessible vehicles – often retrofitted vans – which are often costlier to maintain and less fuel efficient, according to the article.

Uber says that drivers in San Diego, San Francisco, and L.A. can opt to receive extra training on how to work with passengers with mobility equipment, but advocates say that training should be mandatory for every new hire. Another point of contention among advocates are the higher Uber rates in L.A. for wheelchair-friendly vehicles which can be almost twice as much as the cheapest Uber option in the area. Uber says that it is not proud of the pricing but is working to be more efficient and increase demand to bring costs down.

What do you think? Which ADA requirements should Uber drivers be asked to comply with?

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