Every new technology has growing pains, but for Uber and Lyft, the pains extend far beyond the technical side of their respective apps.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is looking into how the companies ensure equal access for people with disabilities. This is in addition to other numerous issues that the companies are facing. According to Reuters:
Disabilities rights activists have questioned how Uber Technologies Inc [[UBER.UL] and Lyft drivers handle passengers in wheelchairs and the blind, but the Massachusetts inquiry appears to be the first from an attorney general, opening a new area of scrutiny for the companies.
This definitely is an important issue. Having a parent who lost a leg last year has made me more aware and sensitive to the issues of people with disabilities. Last year, the National Federation of the Blind of California filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming Uber refused to transport guide dogs. A federal judge has allowed that case to proceed.
Uber said it frequently communicates with advocates and policy makers about making Uber accessible to riders and drivers with disabilities. “We have teams dedicated to continuing to expand that access further for the disabled community in Massachusetts and nationwide,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
However that’s not the only issue Uber is facing. In New York City, a battle is brewing between the ride sharing company and Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall. The underlying disagreement seems to be about who controls the streets.
More and more users are turning to the smartphone-driven ride sharing service, to the dismay of government officials and yellow taxi operators.
The de Blasio administration is attempting to put the brakes on the robust expansion, saying that the flood of new cars could further ensnarl Manhattan’s clogged streets and arguing that the Uber system isn’t equitable for drivers and residents. Uber, however, accuses the mayor of being in the back pocket of the yellow taxi industry, attempting to stifle free enterprise and innovation while hurting the low-income neighborhoods that make up the core of his political support.
This week the New York City council will be considering legislation that would put a cap on Uber’s growth. Said First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris,
We cannot afford to have unlimited, unregulated growth of Uber. We have real concerns about congestion. We are already seeing traffic speeds in Manhattan falling. That is already having an impact on the city’s economy, on air quality and potentially an impact on public safety. And at least one reason why that might be true is the enormous growth of Uber.
Having recently been in NYC, I can concede that he has a point about congestion. However, the whole thing truly reeks of politics and sour grapes.
What’s your take? Have you used Uber or Lyft? Do you think the mayor’s office has a point, or are they just worried about decreased revenue? Let us know in the comments, or on your favorite social media site!