Rideshare Testing: After One Year, How Are Uber and Lyft Doing?

Posted by Valerie Yingling | 06/04/2018 | Advocacy
A young man walks along the side of a road with his guide dog.

In May 2017, NFB initiated a rideshare testing program in response to our new settlement agreements with Uber and Lyft. Both rideshare companies had committed to changes intended to eliminate driver discrimination against travelers with service animals. So now, one year into our three-year testing program, are Uber and Lyft demonstrating improvement?

The answer is complicated.

Ask Maura Gay, and she might tell you how on February 21, before she could enter the car, a driver locked his car doors, announced that he doesn’t take dogs, and then sat and waited until he could claim Maura’s request as a “no show” and cancel the ride.

Or, ask Terry Lopez, and he might tell you about his April 7 experience, when a driver refused to transport him, his guide dog, and three friends, because the driver insisted that Terry’s guide dog counted as a person and that the car could not accommodate any more than four people.

These denials and the many others like them are not only inconvenient, they are unjust. Uber and Lyft clearly still have work to do, and the NFB won’t stop insisting on full and equal access, as outlined in the Uber and Lyft settlement agreements, and as required under federal law.

But the news is not all bad. We’ve received numerous reports of successful rides with drivers who understand their legal obligation to transport individuals with service animals.

Accurate ride provision rates have been difficult to identify, however, because of inconsistent data nationwide—frequency of reporting and rideshare market fluctuations both contribute to this. What has become critically important data during this first year of testing, though, are the comments testers provide when they fill out the rideshare survey.

The NFB’s Lyft Testing—Year One report identified that testers’ comments provide the best insight into individual rideshare experiences. These anecdotes are central to our attorneys’ investigations and ongoing dialogue with Lyft and Uber. We assert that reports from testers about a driver putting a service animal in a car’s hatchback, refusing to transport a service animal on a Lyft Line or Uber Pool ride, or taking other discriminatory actions should be used by Uber and Lyft for planning future driver education initiatives.

The clear takeaway from the first year of our rideshare testing program is that we need testers to continue to submit feedback and comments via our short online survey.

If you have a service animal or travel with someone who does, remember to fill out NFB’s online questionnaire every time you request an Uber or Lyft. Let us know if you notified the driver in advance that you were traveling with a service animal, and if that driver responded appropriately or denied your ride. Let us know if you filed a complaint with Uber or Lyft directly, and if so, how the company responded.

Your involvement in our testing program can and does make a difference—it is our best measure of how comprehensively Uber and Lyft are implementing the changes outlined in the settlement agreements.

For more information contact Valerie Yingling at vyingling@nfb.org and visit the following resources.

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