New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Highlights Disparity in Requesting Wheelchair-Accessible Rides, Reported by Business Insider

Posted on May 21, 2019

People in wheelchairs wait twice as long for Uber and Lyft rides, a new study found

Originally Published in Business Insider on May 21, 2019
Written by Graham Rapier

Requesting a wheelchair-accessible Uber or Lyft in New York City is often times more expensive and slower than rides without access, a new report has found. The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest made that declaration last week after comparing quotes, fares, and wait times for 224 ride requests (448 total) to and from major destinations in the five boroughs. Uber had estimated wait times for wheelchair-accessible rides more than double that of rides without access, the report, published May 16, found. Lyft, meanwhile, could not match researchers with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle on 38% of their requests.

“While the multibillion-dollar for-hire vehicle industry pursues ever greater capital and profits through Wall Street IPOs, it continues to leave New Yorkers with disabilities far behind, without giving them fair and equal transportation options,” Justin Wood, NYLPI’s director of organizing and strategic research, said. The shortfalls could land Lyft and other non-compliant companies in hot water later this year when a new law will take effect in New York City mandating that ride-hailing companies fulfill 60% of accessible requests within 15 minutes. Currently, NYLPI found that the average is about six times as high.

A Lyft spokesperson said the company has been working to increase its wheelchair-accessible service and plans to be in compliance with the law when it takes effect in 11 days. An Uber spokesperson echoed Lyft’s sentiment, adding that the company is already fully compliant with the forthcoming rules. Nonemergency medical transport, a major pain point in the US’s healthcare system, has been a focus of both companies for some years. In February, Lyft announced new tools for Medicare Advantage patients and facilities to book rides in its “concierge” booking product.

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