The California Public Utilities Commission is considering requiring rideshare fleets to provide vehicles catering to the disabled. The change could come as early as September and would be a first in the rideshare industry.
Rideshare companies are known as Transportation Network Companies because they put drivers and passengers in touch with each other and consider themselves technology providers rather than taxi services. Taxis are required to provide access to the disabled while TNC’s are not and as more taxi drivers leave to join rideshare fleets, there are less and less vehicles available for the disabled.
Although the CPUC required rideshare companies to file disability access plans, most avoided discussing wheelchair access. Uber, however, is working to make their services more disabled-friendly including a place for users to specify if they need an accessible vehicle and identify their access needs. Of course, a wheelchair accessible vehicle can’t be provided if the fleet doesn’t own any.
Marzia Zafar, the director of policy and planning division at the CPUC says, “The commission will step in once we have information, verifiable information, that there’s a divide between the disabled and abled community,” she said. “If there is such discrimination (on part of the TNCs), we will step in and bridge that divide.”