Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a major class-action lawsuit last week against San Francisco-based Uber challenging the popular ride-sharing service’s lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
The lawsuit was joined by the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco, Community Resources for Independent Living, and three individuals who use wheelchairs. Given the vast coverage of Uber's service throughout the country, the ramifications are simply huge for Uber as well as the disability communities across the U.S.
The case challenges Uber’s failure to provide wheelchair-accessible service as a violation of California's anti-discrimination law. Wheelchair users cannot rely on Uber as a transportation option because wheelchair-accessible Ubers are rarely, if ever, available. Although Uber advertises a wheelchair accessible service (“Uber WAV”) in the Bay Area, investigations found that in Alameda County, Uber WAV service is simply not available. In San Francisco, 80% of the time, Uber WAV service is unavailable. When it is, a customer may wait as much as 14 times longer than they would for a non-WAV Uber ride.
Uber is already facing litigation regarding its failure to provide WAV service in a number of other major cities in the U.S., including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Their spokesperson released a statement insisting that “We take this issue seriously, and are continuously exploring ways to facilitate mobility and freedom via the Uber App for all riders, including riders who use motorized wheelchairs.”