Uber and Lyft have come on the market as an alternative to traditional taxi services. Using a smartphone app, these services instead allow anyone (after initial screening) to use their personal vehicles to provide rides to those who request them through the app. One of the biggest perks of using these services, is that often riders pay less than they would pay had they taken a traditional cab.
Uber and Lyft have not had the best rapport with Service Dogs so far — but neither have traditional cabs. In fact, in 2014 the National Federation of the Blind sued Uber, because of continuous complaints of those who are blind not being able to bring their service dog with them during an Uber ride. Lyft, has also had similar problems, leaving some simply fed up with the accessibility of their services. However, Uber has been actively working to improve this by providing resources and informing drivers about service dogs. An associate at Lyft also assured me, that they are working on similar materials for their drivers, which should be up in the next month or so. Until then, below is a guide about everything you need to know about Uber, Lyft and Service Dogs. We hope that it assists you and your partner in your travels.
According to Uber’s Service Animal Policy (to read the full document click here), Uber drivers cannot deny or discriminate against those with service animals. In fact, driver-partners who engage in discriminatory conduct will lose their ability to use the app. Uber also makes clear that driver-partners were made aware of their legal obligation and agreed to provide services to riders with disabilities when they signed up for Uber. This means that drivers cannot deny service dogs because of allergies, religious objections, or because they are scared of animals. Drivers can also not charge riders for any shedding from their service dog, which is a relief for many who often hear this common complaint.
If Uber riders do experience difficulties or are denied a ride because of their service dog, Uber suggests using the “I want to Report a Service Animal Issue” complaint screen which is available through both the details screen and the account menu button. After going through this process, an Uber representative will respond to you within a week to let you know about their investigation into the issue, as well as the outcome. In the instance where a driver-partner’s contractual relationship with Uber is terminated because of their refusal to transport the rider because of a service dog, the rider will be granted a credit of $25.
In regards to accessibility and Uber, here are some other points that might be of interest to you:
- For Those With Blind or Low-Vision- Uber offers wireless, braille display and voice over iOS
- For Those Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing- Uber offers visible and vibrating alerts in app and they continue to do updates as necessary.
- For Those Who Have Ambulatory Disabilities- UberWAV is in the pilot stages, but will offer people access to wheelchair accessible vehicles. This is already available in many cities and hopefully more soon (Maybe you will consider this if you have a wheelchair accessible vehicle to offer?).
- Uber Assist- This is your go to if you are needing some extra assistance. Uber Assist partners you with those who have been given specialized training.
To learn more about the differences between UberWAV and UberAssist in order to determine which is best for you, click here.
Uber has also provided Anything Pawsable with a great video below, which speaks about Service Dogs using Uber in the UK. It also provides a helpful resource for drivers with Uber.
Since Lyft is newer on the market, their resources regarding Service Dogs are not as thorough, however will be soon. Right now Lyft’s Service Animal Policy (to read the full document click here), states that drivers using the Lyft platform can not deny or discriminate against passengers with Service Dogs. They have also made their drivers aware that Service Animal teams are not required to wear a special tag, be registered or display any other visual proof of their legitimacy.
The great thing about Lyft is that they offer a Critical Response Line should you need assistance. If a rider ever experiences difficulties transporting a Service Dog, Lyft is available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lyft has outlined in its service animal policy, that concerns such as this are a valid reason to make use of the line. Lyft is also made accessible with VoiceOver technology. You can learn more about it’s benefits here.
Uber, Lyft and Politics
For those who missed it, following President Trump’s Immigration Ban on January 27th, members of the New York City Taxi Alliance announced that there would be no taxi pickups from 6pm to 7pm at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28th. The protest, which aimed to take a stand against President Trump’s executive order, was only further fueled when Uber tweeted that they would be putting a halt on surged pricing following the ban. This tweet, which many thought was Uber’s effort to break up the strike, resulted in more than 200,000 people deleting their Uber account and sharing this process with others on social media accompanied with the hashtag #DeleteUber. People alternatively stated that they would now be using Lyft instead — which proved to have serious political complications as well as we explain below.
- Travis Kalanick (CEO of Uber) joined Donald Trump’s advisory committee in December, he has since left this role. Read an article on this here.
- Lyft does have close ties to Trump as well. Carl Icahn (Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform under Donald Trump) took a $100 million stake in Lyft. Peter Thiel, who is also an advisor to Trump, has invested in Lyft as well.
Anything Pawsable looks forward to following the developments with Uber and Lyft as they continue to build their technologies. What have your experiences been with Uber and Lyft so far? Which do you prefer?