The convenience of services like Uber and Lyft has lead to many passengers electing to use them instead of cab services. Especially given the complicated history that cab drivers have with picking up and ignoring certain passengers.
However, a new study shows that Uber and Lyft may suffer from the same issues in regards to discrimination practices, according to Huffington Post.
The findings of a two-year study conducted by researchers at MIT, Stanford and the University of Washington were published this past Monday in the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study led to researchers going on more than 1,500 rides in Seattle and Boston and recording any data related to drivers picking them up or canceling rides based on their race or gender.
The study found that UberX drivers were almost three times more likely to cancel rides after finding out that the passenger was a black male. Lyft drivers didn’t show the same habit but researchers suggest that’s a result of Lyft allowing drivers to see more information before accepting a ride whereas Uber drivers don’t see a passengers name or photo until they’ve already done so.
Riders of color in Seattle found that they also had to wait longer for their rides to be accepted in the first place.
Through the use of controlled routes, it was also found that drivers were shown to take longer routes when they had female passengers, sometimes going through the same intersection multiple times. It’s believed that this is because drivers were either trying to raise their fares to a higher price or looking to spend more time with passengers in order to flirt.
“Other female riders reported “chatty” drivers who drove extremely long routes, on some occasions even driving through the same intersection multiple times,” said the report.
When approached with the information gathered from the study, Lyft and Uber responded as you’d expect – by condemning any racist practices used by their drivers.
“We are extremely proud of the positive impact Lyft has on communities of color. Because of Lyft, people living in underserved areas – which taxis have historically neglected – are now able to access convenient, affordable rides,” Lyft’s Director of Policy Communications Adrian Durbin said in a statement. “And we provide this service while maintaining an inclusive and welcoming community, and do not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
“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—no matter who they are or where they live,” Uber head of North American operations Rachel Holt told Huff Post. “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.”
It’s disheartening – but not all that surprising – to see that people are still consciously or subconsciously profiling each other when given the opportunity to. The same issue was found with Airbnb, which shows this is more of a problem with society as a whole than these specific industries.
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