For many disability rights groups, including the United Spinal Association, transportation equity is a top issue. And they’ve been able to bring about major changes. Some of the world’s biggest cities, including London, San Francisco, and Chicago, now have 100% wheelchair accessible taxi fleets. New York City is still a long ways off, but has agreed to make half their taxis accessible by 2020.
However, the world is changing and the rideshare app Uber is quickly becoming more popular than taxis in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, most Uber vehicles are not wheelchair accessible. According to disability rights advocate and wheelchair user Dustin Jones, of the 14,000 Uber vehicles in New York City, zero are accessible.
Which is why last week the United Spinal Association released several mailers as well as a TV ad criticizing the organization for their discrimination. In the ad, Jones accusing Uber of “poaching taxi drivers that can accommodate wheelchair users, stopping all the progress we made.” Jones concludes with the threat/call to action, “If Uber won’t stop for people like me, maybe it’s time we stopped Uber.”
Uber responded by pointing to UberWAV, their wheelchair accessible service which launched nearly a year ago. It allows users to request wheelchair accessible city cabs, but not cars. And it’s not available everywhere. In NYC it services the outer boroughs but not Manhattan.
For now it is unclear what effect, if any, the ads will have on Uber’s services.