The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
As [REDACTED] the author of the ADA, I am very concerned about modes of transportation for our community. Taxi drivers all too often discriminate on the basis of a passenger's disability, simply driving past a passenger who is blind or refusing to accept a passenger who is accompanied by a service anima. The traditional taxi industry has faced little competition which means they have had no incentive to invest in and adopt new technologies that make taxis accessible to people who are vision-impaired. This discrimination and inaccessibility disenfranchises the disabled community. When communities are cut off from transportation options, their economic opportunity is greatly limited and their ability to play an active participatory role in the social and political life of their cities is vastly diminished. Uber's arrival, however, has raised service quality, established transparency and accountability, and fast-tracked the adoption of newly accessible technologies, all directly benefiting the disabled community. Uber reduces the possibility for discrimination against riders. At the time a driver-partner accepts a trip request, he/she does not know whether a rider is disabled - or any other personal details about the details about the rider that might possibly give rise to discrimination. Uber also introduces effective accountability: whereas riders previously had little recourse against largely anonymous taxi drivers who would refuse service or simply drive right past them, riders on the Uber platform are able to immediately suspend driver-partners from working on the platform. Uber is also clear about its pricing structure, provides an estimate "in-app" to riders, automatically generates an itemized trip receipt with a map of the route taken, and always prompts the rider to contact Uber with any comments or complaints. This protects riders, especially groups like the vision-impaired, from exploitation at the hands of taxi drivers who do not turn their meter on, have tampered with their meter, take a circuitous routes to inflate the fare, or refuse to make change for cash payments. In closing I have often said that the disability community wants to participate like everyone else in what society has to offer - that is why I introduced the ADA. In order to have a job which is the most critical component for us - transportation becomes key! Uber provides us that opportunity - we can get to the job dependently and timely. This is also true for doctor appointments and other necessities that others in our great country have.