Uber and Lyft Show Signs of Discrimination Towards Black Riders

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By: Krystle Crossman

When you need to rely on public transportation to get around the city and you are black you may have a hard time flagging someone down. Taxi drivers often discriminate against people of color when they are driving around looking for fares. Black men are constantly passed over when they are trying to hail a taxi on the street and black women have almost the same experience. Now studies are showing that it is not just taxis that are discriminatory. Lyft and Uber drivers are guilty as well. This doesn’t leave many options for public transportation in some areas.

The National Bureau of Economic Research studied the habits of Lyft and Uber drivers to see how they reacted when black people tried to use their services. They found that in Seattle black men and women had to wait 35% longer to get a ride. They also found that there was a pattern of cancellations and that black people were canceled on far more than white people in Boston. There were also more rejections with the apps that the two transportation systems use when a person with a name that “sounded African-American” tried to call for a ride.

When the two companies were made aware of the findings of the study they responded by saying that they did not tolerate discrimination. Lyft representative Adrian Durbin said that Lyft has helped people in inner city areas that taxis do not always go to or people in poorer communities that are not areas that have a lot of public transportation. They feel that they give people in these communities a safer option for travel as well if they don’t have their own car. They told the NBER that they do not tolerate any type of discrimination within their company. Uber spokeswoman Rachel Holt said that she was very troubled by what they found with these studies. She said that she feels that Uber is helping to relieve the amount of discrimination that people face with taxis but this study showed that they still are not up to par. Holt said that studies like these are very important because it can give them insight into their company and how things are run. It also gives them an opportunity to change the way that they operate to reduce the discrimination even further.

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