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Thread: Uber, Lyft and Wheelchair Taxis

  1. #1

    Uber, Lyft and Wheelchair Taxis

    I received this e-mail from the folks who run the Abilities Expo.
    Can anyone on CareCure comment if ride share services such as Uber and Lyft have impacted the number or availability of WC Taxi transportation in their city?
    Any "legal eagles" out there who know if these companies claiming to just provide a platform connecting riders and drivers have an obligation to provide equal services for the wheelchair dependent community?
    Dear Friends of Abilities Expo,

    An issue has come to our attention that is set to impact the mobility of Houstonians with disabilities, and we just wanted to make you aware as well.

    Two big new transportation companies called Uber and Lyft have recently arrived here in Houston, although we understand that their services are not yet legal under City of Houston ordinance. These companies both advertise that they are a more convenient (and in some cases, cheaper) alternative to taxicabs by using a so-called "ride-share" business model and a smartphone application. These companies are poised to become a significant new mode of transportation in Houston.

    However, we understand that neither Uber nor Lyft have yet provided any real plan to the City of Houston for how they will accommodate people with disabilities in the Houston area. We also understand that they have no wheelchair-accessible vehicles available for Houstonians who need them, including those who use power wheelchairs and scooters.

    The Abilities Expo has served the community of people with disabilities since 1979, and hosted an annual Abilities Expo Houston at the NRG Center (formerly Reliant Center) since 2010. We support the Americans with Disabilities Act Legacy Tour, which celebrates the kick-off of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Houston Abilities Expo on July 25-27th. We are very invested in making sure that people with disabilities can move around the City of Houston?including to our event each year! We know how difficult transportation can be for those who have disabilities. Therefore, we felt that it is important to make you aware of this issue. We don't want our Abilities Expo attendees and other Houstonians with disabilities to be left out of these transportation alternatives, based solely on their disability.

    We understand that on July 30th, the City of Houston leadership will consider a revision to the City of Houston ordinance in order to address these Transportation Network Companies. We understand that Councilmembers Stardig and Green have taken an active lead to try to build consensus around disability accessibility and other issues related to these companies.

    While there is general support in City of Houston leadership for disability rights, there are mixed opinions on how this particular issue can be effectively addressed in a city ordinance. Some have suggested a five-year "aspirational goal" for these companies to provide access to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

    We, along with other Houston disability advocates, believe that an "aspirational goal" does not meet the criteria for equal access to all. We would like the City of Houston to delay their decision until such time as these companies would be able to accommodate people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs and power scooters. We believe that this would accelerate the process and provide equal opportunity in a fashion that suits the business model of these companies.

    We do not have an opinion on taxi-cab alternatives, as long as they serve all communities equally. We completely agree on an open market and positive alternatives and we endorse those businesses that serve the public and accommodate people with disabilities.

    If you have an opinion you would like to share about this issue or if you want more information, you can contact the Mayor and City Councilmembers. Their email and phone numbers are below.

    (Author redacted Mayor and Council contact information)

  2. #2
    I am a t-10 para and I can only comment as a Uber customer . . . they are fantastic. It's a great service for business travelers and frankly cab services should simply embrace the technology that Uber does (mainly the internet and geo locators). I would be curious to hear what type of accomodations taxi cabs are required to provide - - certainly not every single cab in america is accessible but are their requirements that some % of the fleet has to be wheelchair friendly? I would support making any existing laws applicable to Uber but nothing more.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the input ! Do they let you fold up your wheelchair and put it into the driver's car? Do you use a transfer board for chair to car transfers?

    I agree with you on: "certainly not every single cab in america is accessible but are their requirements that some % of the fleet has to be wheelchair friendly? I would support making any existing laws applicable to Uber but nothing more."

    But the business model for these services is only to provide the mobile app for a person needing a ride to hook up with a driver wanting to make some extra money with their car.

    You'd need to find a Uber/Lyft driver with a wheelchair accessible van who wanted to give rides for hire. That person would also have to be able to assist the wheelchair user into the van and secure the wheelchair/passenger.

    If there's a big bite taken out of medallion taxis business, the availability of wc accessible taxis is sure to go down. Even in a large city, I'm not sure a taxi driver could make a living doing wc transport alone. In the long run this could significantly limit travel opportunities except to cities with large, accessible public transportation systems. Uber was recently valued at something like 18 billion so I think this may be signaling a significant change.

  4. #4
    I am able to transfer myself from wheelchair into vehicle and the drivers have always been willing to put the broken down chair into the trunk (I have a rigid frame). I don't see how the proliferation of Uber would limit the number of WC transport vehicles. I don't believe there is any existing requirement on taxi companies to make available accessible vehicles and if your not able to transfer yourself into a vehicle i'm not aware of any WC accessible taxis. Don't people who need to remain in their chair use other services?

  5. #5
    It's good that you can use these car services.

    The degree of transfer independance varies among individuals with SCI.

    Yes, there is a requirement for accessible transportation: The ADA's Title III provision requires private transportation businesses to provide readily accessible vehicles for individuals with disabilities. Private transportation services include airport shuttles, hotel shuttles, private buses, and taxis. In addition, Title III requires these services to provide readily accessible facilities, such as private bus stops and depots. - See more at:

    Wheelchair accessible taxis are available in most large cities (with advance reservations) from Yellow cab or another medallion Taxi company. They have automatic ramps that lower to the curb for passengers with power chairs or for persons needing to remain in their manual wheelchair during transport. Losing this access limits freedom to visit other places around your own city as well as to visit family out of state.

    I'm not the only one concered:

  6. #6
    Uber had a booth at the Abilities Expo this past weekend. I talked with a woman who said she was with their disability department. She acknowledged that the number of available wheelchair taxis is decreasing in major cities because more drivers are working for Uber. Their answer is to sign up wheelchair users who own ramp or lift accessible vehicles to transport other wheelchair users needing rides. When I asked her to look around the crowded floors of the Expo and tell me how a wheelchair passenger would obtain safe entry to the van as well as secure tie-downs for their chair from a driver with their own mobility deficits, I expected...crickets.
    Her comeback was that most wheelchair vehicle owners don't use the vehicle themselves every day so they are recruiting family members wanting to make extra income driving. She did not have an answer if Uber wheelchair vehicles would be available 24/7.
    I wish the advocacy services in Texas who have filed suit the best of luck. I also wish I had Uber's valuation of $17B to donate.

  7. #7
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete
    I have been wondering the same thing.
    Cab companies and taxi firms in all the LARGE western world cities provide vehicles for wheel chair users.

    I don't see how this can end well for wheelchair users, especially those who have difficulty transferring.

    New York let the side down with their new Cabs, but the new London taxi's are good.

  8. #8
    Since my OP, an advocacy group for the blind is suing them for discriminating against passengers with service dogs -including one alleged instance of a driver putting a seeing eye dog in the car trunk. No progress in filling the gap for ramp van taxi users. ( I think this was a bunch of horses#*t in order to win City Council approval)

  9. #9
    One warning on ridesharing like uber. Insurance companies are starting to notify all personal auto policy holders that ridesharing is not an acceptable use of the vehicle and any claim arising out of ridesharing will not be covered. So if you get injured in one of there vehicles its all on you. Check the driver if he has a commercial policy before getting in. Insurance id card will tell you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete
    Uber, Lyft face disability access questions from Massachusetts

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