Uber and Lyft Still Denying Rides to Those with Service Animals

A woman opens a car door as her guide dog stands by her side.

Uber and Lyft Still Denying Rides to Those with Service Animals

With the help of hundreds of testers, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently completed its second year of rideshare testing to measure whether Uber and Lyft drivers are continuing to deny rides to travelers with service animals. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this testing program. Your feedback is critical to our ongoing monitoring efforts.  

In short, though year two testing data included numerous reports of positive rideshare experiences, reports of discrimination persist. Uber and Lyft continue to fall short of our expectations and of settlement agreement requirements. Many riders are still being denied transportation, being treated disrespectfully during rides, and being charged cleaning fees because of their service animals.

NFB President Mark A. Riccobono has asserted that one denial is one too many.

Indeed, one denial is too many for travelers like Mitch Grogan who, after being denied transportation by a Lyft driver because of his service animal, risked not making it to the hospital to address a medical reaction he was experiencing. Fortunately, he contacted a second driver who was aware of the legal obligations and drove Mitch to the hospital in time.

Excuses drivers give for not being able to transport a service animal often include having allergies or a fear of dogs and sometimes border on the absurd—Vanessa Lowrey was denied transportation by a driver who insisted Vanessa bring a blanket with her to lay on the floor of the car. When Vanessa explained that she did not have a blanket with her, the driver said no dog would be allowed in his car without a blanket and sped off.

We continue to press both Uber and Lyft to vigorously enforce their service animal policies required by the settlement agreements by terminating drivers who deny rides.  We have also insisted that Uber and Lyft share more data with us so that we can understand how discriminatory denial rates have changed over time and how thoroughly both ridesharing companies investigate discrimination complaints. 

Regarding Lyft, President Riccobono has insisted that Lyft’s CEO meet with him promptly to discuss steps for resolving Lyft drivers’ ongoing denials, but Lyft executives thus far have refused to commit to this critical conversation.  Nevertheless, counsel for NFB will meet with Lyft representatives in June to continue to advocate for improved access for NFB members and other riders with service animals.

Regarding Uber, we have demanded more detailed cancellation rate data. In addition, the third-party monitor for the Uber agreement has urged Uber to demonstrate improvement in eliminating discriminatory ride denials or face recommendations in future reports that agreement terms be revised.

As we move into our third year of testing, three important points remain:

  • We still need your help in collecting rideshare testing data, both positive and negative, to hold Uber and Lyft accountable to the terms outlined in their settlement agreements. Please complete the survey every time you travel with a service animal and share the survey link with others in your network. Collectively, your feedback makes a difference in our efforts.
  • We urge you to continue to notify Uber and Lyft drivers in advance that you are traveling with a service animal, so that drivers cannot plausibly claim to have not known your animal was a service animal when they denied your ride. If you file a complaint with Uber or Lyft and you believe that your driver knew that you were traveling with a service animal, inform the agent that your driver knew you were traveling with a service animal.
  • If you submit a complaint to Uber or Lyft regarding service animal-related discrimination, we urge you to identify and provide contact information for anyone whom you know witnessed the incident and to provide the ridesharing company with any other evidence that you have, such as a video recording, that documents the discrimination.

For more information about the NFB’s Uber and Lyft testing program and for specific year two testing data, visit our Uber and Lyft information page or contact Valerie Yingling at vyingling@nfb.org

—Valerie Yingling