On May 25, Access Living’s Adam Ballard and Jackie Dorantes testified before the Joint Committee of the City Council in support of Alderman Beale’s Ride Share Ordinance. In order to increase access for riders with disabilities, Access Living supports Beale’s ordinance, which holds Transportation Network Providers such as Uber and Lyft to standards similar to the taxi industry in Chicago.
Currently in Chicago, people who use wheelchairs do not have the same access to TNPs as the rest of the population.
Transportation Network Providers are delivering three million rides a month in Chicago. Yet, through August of 2015, they fulfilled a total of only 14 wheelchair accessible trips. The demand for accessible vehicles does exist. In 2015, there were more than 41,000 taxi requests to Central Dispatch for wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Under Uber’s current system, a rider can request a wheelchair accessible vehicle through the Uber application. But while a non-disabled rider would be dispatched an Uber car and would be charged a competitive rate, the customer requesting an accessible vehicle would be dispatched an accessible taxi, and would be charged the taxi rate plus a $2 convenience fee.
In his testimony before the City Council, Ballard, a wheelchair user, stated, “This afternoon, everyone sitting here could get an Uber or a Lyft to take them home for a fare that is less than cost of a taxi ride. I cannot. I can use the app, but it will only send me to Central Dispatch to order what’s left of the accessible taxi cab fleet. The app will charge me an additional $2.00 for the service I could have received if I had called Central Dispatch myself. What’s fair about that?”
Access Living supports the basic requirements of Alderman Beale’s Ordinance:
1. Everyone operates with the same background check;
2. Five percent of the ride share industry fleet consist of wheelchair accessible vehicles (taxis must be 10% accessible by 2018, and 50% by 2030);
3. Each company operate a disability specific complaint and response system.
Access Living’s Jackie Dorantes is disabled and uses a service dog. She testified about her experience with Uber drives who refused to allow her service animal to enter Uber vehicles. “I repeatedly had Uber drivers refuse to let Archie enter their cars,” Dorantes testified. “This happened so frequently, I finally gave up using the service.” Her testimony calls for the addition of a disability specific complaint and response system in order to address such problems.
Access Living would also support the removal of Uber and Lyft’s mandatory arbitration clauses. “Users should not have to give up their power to enforce their civil rights simply to use the Uber or Lyft app,” Ballard said.
The full testimony of Ballard ( Ballard Testimony ) and Dorantes ( Dorantes Testimony ) is available at www.accessliving.org. For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 or firstname.lastname@example.org