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Update: Congressional Black Caucus Calls on Uber and Lyft to Address Discrimination Reports

 

By Staff

 

(Update, Nov. 4) – Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) have called upon ride-share service companies Uber and Lyft to address reports of racial discrimination, following a study recently released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

“We are concerned with findings from the NBER study that show evidence of discrimination against African American riders attempting to use ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft as a means of transportation,” Butterfield stated. “The CBC urges the leadership of these ride-sharing companies to address the issues of racism and discrimination found while using their platforms, and implement solutions that work for all customers to ensure fairness and equity in the services they provide.”

In addition, “As ride-sharing and the broader sharing economy continue to reduce transportation costs and improve access, we must ensure that these gains are seen by all communities, not just a handful. Anything else is simply unacceptable,” Lee, co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s TECH2020 Initiative, stated. “As tech companies continue to innovate the future, we look forward to working with them to implement measures that ensure access, equality, and fairness for all.”

CBC Chairman Butterfield, Reps. Lee, Emmanuel Cleaver (MO-05), and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), members of the CBC Diversity Task Force and CBC TECH2020, have also sent a letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and a letter to Lyft CEO Logan Green addressing their concerns.

Visit http://cbc-butterfield.house.gov/sites/congressionalblackcaucus.house.gov/files/16.4.11_CBC_Letter_Uber.pdf, and http://cbc-butterfield.house.gov/sites/congressionalblackcaucus.house.gov/files/16.4.11%20CBC_Lyft_Letter.pdf, to view the letters.

(From Nov. 2)- People in cities across the country have learned that catching an Uber is an easy way to get from point A to point B — but new research shows that it may be easier for certain people than for others.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Washington analyzed roughly 1,500 Uber and Lyft rides taken in Boston and Seattle.

According to CNN Money, Boston’s Uber and Lyft drivers were more than twice as likely to cancel a ride if the requesting passenger had a more “African American sounding” name. The researchers also found that drivers took female passengers for more expensive rides that lasted longer.

“We went into this hoping that we wouldn’t see anything, but we found pretty strong evidence of discrimination,” said Christopher Knittel, MIT professor at the Sloan School of Management and the study’s co-author.

During the study, to ensure no variances, participants used identical smartphones and captured information like trip requests, acceptance times and actual pickup and drop-off times.

One of the biggest benefits of Uber, its advocates say, is that people are less likely to drive themselves home after a night of drinking, leading to fewer DUIs. And research has borne this out.

According to an Entrepreneur article by Temple University researchers, when Uber began in California, the state’s DUI fatalities decreased between 2009 and 2014. On average during that time, the number of drunk driving deaths dropped by 3.5 and 5.6% in areas of California that offered Uber services.

Although ride sharing services have been a boon to many people, this study points out that discrimination is as rampant in this industry as in any other.

“Ridesharing apps are changing a transportation status quo that has been unequal for generations, making it easier and more affordable for people to get around,” said Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of North American operations. “Discrimination has no place in society and no place on Uber. We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more.”

Bloomberg Technology reports that because these companies are the first of their kind, there are bound to be issues that need to be addressed.

“In many ways, the sharing economy is making it up as they go along,” Knittel added. “A lot of this is a learning process, and you can’t expect these companies to have everything perfect right out of the gate.”

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