Are Ride-Sharing Companies Meeting Accessibility Requirements in New York?

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Ride-sharing companies work toward increasing reliability for people with disabilities who are in need of accessible rides.

After a 2017 New York City class-action lawsuit alleging that the ride-sharing company Uber was discriminating against people with disabilities, the ride sharing companies Uber, Lyft, and Via arrived at an agreement with the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission in which they agreed to a “wait time requirement” to increase accessibility, as described by an article in City and State. Under this requirement, the companies must fulfill “80% of accessible ride requests within 15 minutes, and 90% of accessible ride requests within 30 minutes.” They can also have these requests filled by third-party vehicle-for-hire companies, provided those companies also meet the wait time requirement.

A recent report analyzing the three companies’ compliance with the requirement found that from July to September 2020, Uber met both wait time requirements, Lyft met them “in two of the four months,” and Via met both of them in one of the months, with Via’s shortfalls attributed to pandemic-era bans on shared rides.

In a statement to City and State, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission commissioner said the report “illustrated significant compliance by high-volume providers during the period, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 emergency, while also highlighting some areas where we believe improvement is necessary.” On the other hand, accessibility advocates have cast skepticism on the results, suggesting that the ride-sharing companies have not made adequate progress toward a “stricter mandate” in effect this year: 80% of accessible ride requests met within ten minutes, and 90% of accessible ride requests met within 15 minutes. In a statement, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest director Justin Wood told City and State, “I think the basic problem is that there’s still no reliable, affordable service for people who need an accessible vehicle for any reason.”

More information on ride-sharing companies’ progress toward providing accessible rides for people with disabilities is available via City and State.

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