End Discrimination from Uber and Lyft Drivers!

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Sponsor: The Hunger Site

Gender and race shouldn't affect how these drivers get you from Point A to Point B!


Drivers for the popular ridesharing applications Uber and Lyft should not be planning their trips around discrimination against women and people of color, yet at least one scientific study has shown this is exactly what is happening when the apps are used1.

Over the span of two years, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford, and the University of Washington, looked at nearly 1,500 total rides in Seattle and Boston2.

In Seattle, when compared to the results for white people, it took up to 28% longer for requests by riders of color to be accepted by both Uber and Lyft drivers. More than that, riders with "black-sounding names" in Boston experienced a cancellation rate twice as high as those with "white-sounding names," specifically when the passenger was male and requesting a ride in a "low-density area3."

"We found that African-American travelers in Seattle experienced statistically significantly longer delay waiting for a trip request through UberX or Lyft to be accepted," the researchers wrote. UberX is Uber's baseline service.

Generally, the study found women were often driven further than men, meaning that Uber and Lyft drivers, upon accepting the fare and picking up a woman, are less apt to take the shortest possible route to the destination4. Considering this alongside reports from female researchers that drivers were extra talkative with them, the researchers suggest that female riders are exposed to profiteering and flirting.

While both Uber and Lyft have made significant progress in providing affordable transportation options for all "including several areas where taxis refuse to go," discrimination of any kind is unacceptable5. These companies waved goodbye long ago to their startup status and must revise their process as such, starting with the process in which drivers apply and are accepted.

As it is, Uber and Lyft drivers share the following requirements: they must be older than 21, have proper driving experience; they must have an in-state driver's license; they must have an in-state vehicle with proper insurance; and they must be able to pass a background check67.

Progress isn't guaranteed by this current process, not when it comes to discrimination. What Uber and Lyft must strive for is education. Sign this petition and request that, in addition to the current driver application process, the CEOs of Uber and Lyft require of its drivers the completion of a company generated and led course on proper driver conduct.

More on this issue:

  1. KALW (14 March 2019), "Driver discrimination still a problem as Uber and Lyft prepare to go public."
  2. Scott Middleton, DSpace @ MIT (2018), "Discrimination, regulation, and design in ridehailing."
  3. Samara Lynn, Black Enterprise (3 November 2016), "Study Finds Shocking Racist Practices By Uber And Lyft Drivers."
  4. Alicia Adamczyk, Money (31 October 2016), "Uber Drivers Take Women for Unnecessarily Longer, More Expensive Rides."
  5. Dan Rivoli, Jillian Jorgensen, New York Daily News (31 July 2018), "City vows to crack down on taxis refusing service as it also looks to cap Uber."
  6. Uber Technologies Inc. (2022), "Driver requirements."
  7. Lyft, Inc. (2022), "Learn what you need to drive with Lyft."
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The Petition:

To the CEOs of Uber and Lyft,

I acknowledge that your companies have made significant strides in providing affordable transportation options to all people, regardless of age, race, or gender, often picking up and dropping off passengers in areas taxis have refused to go for years.

Yet, discrimination continues to occur.

A recently-concluded study revealed that female passengers, and passengers of color, were discriminated against by both Uber drivers and Lyft drivers. The study was conducted by MIT, Stanford, and the University of Washington. Data was collected over the span of nearly 1,500 rides.

Specifically, results from rides in Seattle indicate that, when compared to the results for white people, it took up to 28% longer for drivers to accept requests from riders of color. More than that, riders with "black-sounding names" in Boston experienced a cancellation rate twice as high as those with "white-sounding names," specifically when the passenger was male and requesting a ride in a "low-density area".

The study also found that women were often driven further than men, meaning that Uber and Lyft drivers, upon accepting the fare and picking up a woman, are less apt to take the shortest possible route to the destination. Considering this alongside reports from female researchers that drivers were extra talkative with them, the researchers suggest that female riders are exposed to profiteering and flirting.

I believe that, in order to continue making significant progress in providing affordable transportation for all, the best course of action is for each of you to revisit your company's process for approving drivers. I request that, before allowing drivers onto the road, you require of your drivers the completion of a company generated and led course on proper driver conduct.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: