Class action lawsuit filed against Uber over lack of wheelchair access in NYC vehicles


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/18/uber-nyc-wheelchairs.html


#2

Airbnb be thinking, “Crap, we next!”


#3

Yep.

So… I guess any sharing economy is doomed because it can’t be expected to accommodate EVERYONE?


#4

Wait, but Uber doesn’t own the cars, do they? Are they suing to force 10% of all Uber drivers to trade in their cars for lift vans?


#5

Burger King doesn’t own its franchise locations either, but they still all have to be ADA-compliant. I could see Uber being able to weasel their way out of their social obligations if they acted like a Craigslist for hitchhiking, but they actually control and administer an increasingly-substantial portion of urban transportation infrastructure. They audit the vehicles people drive in, and set the rates at which drivers get paid. When you operate as a public enterprise (by which I mean your services are offered to the general public, not “publicly traded”), you have to follow all of the laws, even the inconvenient ones.


#6

But making the building ADA compliant doesn’t require buying a whole new building.

Complying with that law is fundamentally impossible for uber’s business model IMO.


#7

And? You can’t set up an assassin’s guild in the US either, because complying with the “don’t murder people” law is fundamentally impossible for such an organization’s business model. The government is under no obligation to facilitate any company’s business model, especially if it has a discriminatory impact.


#8

Uber could make mucho brownie points for itself by soliciting drivers who already have the necessary accommodations, because they themselves or family needed them.


#9

That’s not a model that’s illegal, it’s the actual service offered.

I find it hard to fault Uber when its contractors pick them, they don’t pick their contractors, at least as far as I understand it. The only way I see this working is for Uber to stop taking on drivers until certain percentage is being met. But that’s unfair to the drivers who might not have ADA compliant vehicles who would like to be working.


#10

The inevitable outcome of this will be ADA lawsuits in every city where Uber operates.

You are right - its near impossible to accommodate this with their business model. Hint - maybe thats why the business model did not exist before.

Tough noogies Uber.


#11

But Uber’s model is “we do it cheaper because we break all the existing laws…”


#12

I think it had more to do with the mobile technology to really make it work being common place.


#13

The solution would be for uber to finance the disabled-accommodating vehicles in proportion to the ‘normal’ cars in their fleet… If that means they have to staff and own handicap vans themselves (the horror), so be it. Sounds like that’s what cab pools have to do too?


#14

You are right, but I suspect Uber’s tunnel vision over how mobile technology enabled this blinded them to the practical concerns of why it does not work. This form of business is a public accommodation. If you have no control over whether or not you can accommodate people, then you really don’t have a viable business.

If they get their own fleet of driverless cars up and running they will be able to answer this, but with volunteer drivers it does not work.


#15

Uber drivers will be replaced by automated cars in the next 4 years anyway… I say, let those plucky Joe Somebodies get supplemental income through driving while it lasts… (and someone figure out what we are going to do with all those out-of-work truckers while we’re at it).

As one that works in an industry that is completely beholden to accessibility and disability laws, I understand the pain, but will always champion the need. The fact is, Uber is a model of (As HMSGoose puts it) “We do it cheaper because we break all the existing laws…” is not that far off… it’s like watching centuries of the taxi industry woes condensed down to 8 short years.


#16

I think it did, but it was called ‘gypsy cab.’ Sorry for that term– its an ugly one. Uber just made it possible to call the nearest unlicensed cab at any time, so I guess the hailing tech is the innovation.


#17

Sure, but that was “illegal”, it was not centralized, and there was no one entity to be responsible for public accommodation to the service. Uber is trying to have it both ways, but they won’t be able to apparently.


#18

Yeah, this is a big blow to the ridesharing model because they depend on using the existing population of cars, which is not terribly accessible. (Why aren’t they accessible? Because the ADA only applies to the provision of goods and services, not to goods themselves.)


#19

The words “uber” and “human rights” don’t have a history of working well together.


#20

Yeah, you’re exactly right. Uber’s big play was to centralize the grey-market and skim off the top (though they are losing money while at it). Uber is illegal in many places just like gypsy cabs, because that’s essentially what it is. Like you say, they are trying to have it both ways; to be illegal and legit at the same time. It’s impossible to try and legitimize the grey-market without succumbing to regulation– that’s just how it works.