Although Uber has a wheelchair-accessible service, called Uber WAV, in the Bay Area, Disability Rights Advocates wrote in the complaint that the service is “a sham.”
The group conducted a test of the service and found that in Alameda County, not a single wheelchair-accessible Uber was available during a total of 120 tests, according to the complaint.
In more than 60 tests the group conducted in San Francisco, a wheelchair-accessible Uber was completely unavailable almost five times out of six. In the rare instance where a WAV was available, the average wait time was about five times longer than the wait for an UberX at the same location.
I wrote for Newsweek on both these types of lawsuits and the broader frame. Regulation is good. Regulation protects rights. Business models that make models by dodging regulations will inevitably harm disabled folks. I wrote:
From Uber to AirBNB to TaskRabbit, the gig economy presents itself as the hyper-flexible way to work, to get things done, and to find the professional services you need. Through promoting “sharing,” using other people’s property like cars and apartments or services like driving, repair skills, these companies have created broadly profitable industries that successfully dodge decades of red tape and other bureaucratic roadblocks.
Over the last three decades and more, access to public space and public infrastructure has been a major goal – and victory – for the disability rights movement. Thanks to numerous state and federal laws, all government services – from trains and buses to court documents and DMVs – must be made accessible. Private businesses, at least once they get to a certain size, have to provide access to their product. A restaurant needs accessible seating. A hotel needs accessible entrances and rooms. Taxis need put some WAVs on the road.
More to come on this suit and the disability issues related to the “gig economy.”