A report by an advocacy group in New York says Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services are virtually “useless” for people with disabilities because of the relative lack of vehicles equipped to handle wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

The report by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest also says that when riders summoned wheelchair-accessible vehicles from Uber and Lyft – the only ride-hailing companies to offer such a service – the wait time was more than four times longer than for regular service.

As if that weren’t bad enough, all these DIY taxi services are clogging city streets and slowing buses and paratransit vehicles that are equipped to transport people with disabilities.

The advocacy group called on Uber and Lyft, along with smaller operators Juno and Via, to do better by disabled riders, perhaps by offering more incentives to drivers to equip their vehicles to transport them.

Although the report focuses only on New York City, advocates in the disability community say there’s little reason to think the problem is different elsewhere.

Uber and Lyft officials said their companies are committed to providing better service for people with disabilities.

Both companies highlighted their commitment to a pilot program under the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission intended to provide better service for disabled riders. The two-year pilot, which begins in July, will essentially pool wheelchair-accessible vehicles and route them through a centralized dispatcher.

It’s a permissible alternative to compliance with TLC regulations that would otherwise require for-hire vehicle services to have at least 25 percent of their fleets equipped to handle wheelchairs by 2022.


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