Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have soared in popularity but they have largely excluded people with disabilities. The California Public Utilities Commission may take action if it finds these companies are leaving the disabled in the lurch.
“The commission will step in once we have information, verifiable information, that there’s a divide between the disabled and abled community,” Marzia Zafar, the director of policy and planning division at the CPUC, told the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “If there is such discrimination, we will step in and bridge that divide.”
These companies easily connect potential riders with nearby drivers through a smartphone app. Once riders reach their destination, they are charged a predetermined fee through the app.
The CPUC regulates rideshare companies and requires they submit accessibility plans. These plans must include a timeline for modifying apps so passengers can indicate their access needs and notify the driver if a service animal accompanies them. Companies also must plan for meeting customer needs along with providing incentives to individuals with accessible vehicles to become drivers.
If action is taken, California would become the first state to implement such requirements. Action could be taken by as early as September.