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Wheelchair users sue Lyft too

Ride-hailing company says it will eventually have wheelchair vans in the Bay Area

A wheelchair accessible van in New York with ramp extended.
A wheelchair accessible van in New York.

One week after suing Uber for allegedly providing inadequate service to wheelchair users, Berkeley-based non-profit Disability Rights Advocates [DRA] have now sued Lyft for the same reasons.

This, of course, comes as little surprise as both class-action suits mirror one another and even use identical language at many points in the two complaints, although DRA does make a point of distinguishing Lyft from its competitor:

Lyft has carefully crafted an image as a conscientious company with strong progressive values, in contrast to its main rival Uber. [...] However, Lyft has excluded people who need WAVs [wheelchair accessible vans] from being able to use its service.

[...] In 2016 Lyft began working with health care providers, health insurers, hospital systems, and medical transport systems to provide transportation to and from medical appointments. Lyft views its transportation service as having big implications for the future of transportation, with the power to solve problems like urban congestion and climate change and bring greater prosperity to all.

It has done nothing to include people with mobility disabilities in this vision of the future.

Ouch. The suit names one Oakland woman and one Richmond woman among the plaintiffs, along with the disability rights group Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco.

Whereas Uber has a specific feature on its app that hails WAVs (albeit one that DRA’s suit claims is inadequate to the point of non-functionality), Lyft has no particular accommodation for disabled customers in the Bay Area. According to a 2018 internal audit, seven percent of Lyft customers report living with a disability.

In response to the suit, Lyft spokesperson Scott Corriel told Curbed SF via email, “We currently have partnerships and programs in place to provide enhanced WAV access in various parts of the country, and are actively exploring ways to expand them nationwide.”

Lyft has long been the second most-popular ridesharing app in the U.S.; however, Certify, a Maine-based software company that tallies business expenses, told Curbed SF in January that the number of people claiming Lyft rides as business expenses has more than quadrupled since 2015, and in San Francisco surveys say almost twice as many drivers prefer working for Lyft compared to the rest of the country.